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Brain Behav Evol. 2018;91(2):82-96. doi: 10.1159/000487793. Epub 2018 Apr 19.

FoxP2 Expression in a Highly Vocal Teleost Fish with Comparisons to Tetrapods.


Motivated by studies of speech deficits in humans, several studies over the past two decades have investigated the potential role of a forkhead domain transcription factor, FoxP2, in the central control of acoustic signaling/vocalization among vertebrates. Comparative neuroanatomical studies that mainly include mammalian and avian species have mapped the distribution of FoxP2 expression in multiple brain regions that imply a greater functional significance beyond vocalization that might be shared broadly across vertebrate lineages. To date, reports for teleost fish have been limited in number and scope to nonvocal species. Here, we map the neuroanatomical distribution of FoxP2 mRNA expression in a highly vocal teleost, the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus). We report an extensive overlap between FoxP2 expression and vocal, auditory, and steroid-signaling systems with robust expression at multiple sites in the telencephalon, the preoptic area, the diencephalon, and the midbrain. Label was far more restricted in the hindbrain though robust in one region of the reticular formation. A comparison with other teleosts and tetrapods suggests an evolutionarily conserved FoxP2 phenotype important to vocal-acoustic and, more broadly, sensorimotor function among vertebrates.


Androgen receptor; Estrogen receptor; FoxP2; Teleost fish

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