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Eur J Neurosci. 2008 Mar;27(6):1409-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06102.x.

Profiling of experience-regulated proteins in the songbird auditory forebrain using quantitative proteomics.

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Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


Auditory and perceptual processing of songs are required for a number of behaviors in songbirds such as vocal learning, territorial defense, mate selection and individual recognition. These neural processes are accompanied by increased expression of a few transcription factors, particularly in the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), an auditory forebrain area believed to play a key role in auditory learning and song discrimination. However, these molecular changes are presumably part of a larger, yet uncharacterized, protein regulatory network. In order to gain further insight into this network, we performed two-dimensional differential in-gel expression (2D-DIGE) experiments, extensive protein quantification analyses, and tandem mass spectrometry in the NCM of adult songbirds hearing novel songs. A subset of proteins was selected for immunocytochemistry in NCM sections to confirm the 2D-DIGE findings and to provide additional quantitative and anatomical information. Using these methodologies, we found that stimulation of freely behaving birds with conspecific songs did not significantly impact the NCM proteome 5 min after stimulus onset. However, following 1 and 3 h of stimulation, a significant number of proteins were consistently regulated in NCM. These proteins spanned a range of functional categories that included metabolic enzymes, cytoskeletal molecules, and proteins involved in neurotransmitter secretion and calcium binding. Our findings suggest that auditory processing of vocal communication signals in freely behaving songbirds triggers a cascade of protein regulatory events that are dynamically regulated through activity-dependent changes in calcium levels.

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