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Gregg Roman, professor and chair of biology at the University of Mississippi, and researchers at the University of Houston have recently discovered a likely new mechanism for alcohol tolerance, according to a paper published in eNeuro, a journal from the Society for Neuroscience.
Roman and colleagues previously found that fruit flies with reduced activity of the gene Dunc13 consumed significantly more ethanol than flies without the mutation. Building on these findings, the researchers now demonstrate that ethanol interferes with the binding of diacylglycerol — a chemical compound that facilitates neurotransmitter release — and reduces the activity of the Unc13 protein. Flies with reduced Dunc13 activity took longer to become sedated after being exposed to intoxicating levels of ethanol. The research provides new insight into the neurobiology of alcohol tolerance.