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Brain Res Bull. 2008 Jul 30;76(5):536-44. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2008.03.008. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Changes in brain gene expression during migration in the white-crowned sparrow.

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Neuroscience Training Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6001 Research Park Boulevard, Madison, WI 53719, USA.


Long-term recordings of seasonal sleep patterns in captive white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) have shown that these birds markedly reduce sleep time during the migratory period relative to the non-migratory period. It was also found that, despite this sleep reduction, sparrows showed no evidence of neurobehavioral deficits in a standard operant task used to assess the effects of sleep loss. In this study, we performed an extensive microarray analysis of gene expression in the sparrow telencephalon during the migratory season (M), relative to a 78-h period of enforced sleep restriction during the non-migratory season (SR), and a 6-h period of normal wakefulness during the non-migratory season (W). Of the estimated 17,100 transcripts that were reliably detected, only 0.17% changed expression as a function of M (relative to both SR and W), and 0.11% as a function of SR (relative to both M and W). Brain transcripts whose expression increased during M include the facilitated glucose transporter GLUT1, the presenilin associated rhomboid-like protein PARL, and several members of the heat shock protein family, such as HSP70, HSP90, GRP78 and BiP. These data suggest that migration is associated with brain cellular stress and enhanced energetic demands.

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