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Neurosci Res. 2011 Jan;69(1):32-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2010.09.002. Epub 2010 Sep 19.

Molecular function of microtubule-associated protein 2 for filial imprinting in domestic chicks (Gallus gallus domesticus).

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Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Teikyo University, Midori-ku, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan.


RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene-silencing can be a tool for elucidating the role of genes in the neural basis of behavioral plasticity. Previously, we reported that exogenous DNA could be successfully delivered into newly-hatched chick brains via electroporation. Here, we used this in vivo gene-transfer technique and showed that transfected microRNA vectors preferentially silence exogenous DNA expression in neuronal cells. Using this system, the up-regulation of microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) accompanying filial imprinting was suppressed in vivo, which impaired the filial imprinting in chicks. In addition, the phosphorylation of MAP2 was found to increase in parallel with filial imprinting, and lithium chloride, an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), was found to impair filial imprinting. Our results suggest that the regulation of MAP2 expression and its phosphorylation are required for filial imprinting and may modify microtubule stability, thereby leading to cytoskeletal reorganization during imprinting. This in vivo RNAi-mediated gene-silencing system will facilitate the analysis of gene function in the living chick brain and provides further clues regarding the molecular mechanisms underpinning avian learning.

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