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Elife. 2018 Jan 23;7. pii: e30649. doi: 10.7554/eLife.30649.

FoxP2 isoforms delineate spatiotemporal transcriptional networks for vocal learning in the zebra finch.

Author information

1
Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States.
2
Interdepartmental Program in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States.
3
Physiological Science Master's Degree Program, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States.
4
Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States.
5
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, Stanford, United States.

Abstract

Human speech is one of the few examples of vocal learning among mammals yet ~half of avian species exhibit this ability. Its neurogenetic basis is largely unknown beyond a shared requirement for FoxP2 in both humans and zebra finches. We manipulated FoxP2 isoforms in Area X, a song-specific region of the avian striatopallidum analogous to human anterior striatum, during a critical period for song development. We delineate, for the first time, unique contributions of each isoform to vocal learning. Weighted gene coexpression network analysis of RNA-seq data revealed gene modules correlated to singing, learning, or vocal variability. Coexpression related to singing was found in juvenile and adult Area X whereas coexpression correlated to learning was unique to juveniles. The confluence of learning and singing coexpression in juvenile Area X may underscore molecular processes that drive vocal learning in young zebra finches and, by analogy, humans.

KEYWORDS:

Area X; RNA-seq; Taeniopygia guttata; WGCNA; computational biology; neuroscience; systems biology; vocal learning

PMID:
29360038
PMCID:
PMC5826274
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.30649
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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