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Sheng Li Xue Bao. 2014 Apr 25;66(2):135-44.

The plateau zokors' learning and memory ability is related to the high expression levels of foxP2 in the brain.

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Department of Biology, Qinghai University, Xining 810016, China.


Plateau zokor (Myospalax baileyi) is a subterranean mammal. Plateau zokor has high learning and memory ability, and can determine the location of blocking obstacles in their tunnels. Forkhead box p2 (FOXP2) is a transcription factor implicated in the neural control of orofacial coordination and sensory-motor integration, particularly with respect to learning, memory and vocalization. To explore the association of foxP2 with the high learning and memory ability of plateau zokor, the cDNA of foxP2 of plateau zokor was sequenced; by using plateau pika as control, the expression levels of foxP2 mRNA and FOXP2 protein in brain of plateau zokor were determined by real-time PCR and Western blot, respectively; and the location of FOXP2 protein in the brain of plateau zokor was determined by immunohistochemistry. The result showed that the cDNA sequence of plateau zokor foxP2 was similar to that of other mammals and the amino acid sequences showed a relatively high degree of conservation, with the exception of two particular amino acid substitutions [a Gln (Q)-to-His (H) change at position 231 and a Ser (S)-to-Ile (I) change at position 235]. Higher expression levels of foxP2 mRNA (3-fold higher) and FOXP2 protein (>2-fold higher) were detected in plateau zokor brain relative to plateau pika brain. In plateau zokor brain, FOXP2 protein was highly expressed in the cerebral cortex, thalamus and the striatum (a basal ganglia brain region). The results suggest that the high learning and memory ability of plateau zokor is related to the high expression levels of foxP2 in the brain.

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