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.
- Stephanie A White
- Zachary Daniel Burkett
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All animal use was in accordance with NIH guidelines for experiments involving vertebrate animals and approved by the University of California, Los Angeles Chancellor's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) under protocol (#2001-54). All surgical procedures were performed under isoflurane anesthetic.
- Liqun Luo, Reviewing Editor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University, United States
- Received: July 24, 2017
- Accepted: January 22, 2018
- Accepted Manuscript published: January 23, 2018 (version 1)
© 2018, Burkett et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.