Core and region-enriched networks of behaviorally regulated genes and the singing genome.


Journal Article

Songbirds represent an important model organism for elucidating molecular mechanisms that link genes with complex behaviors, in part because they have discrete vocal learning circuits that have parallels with those that mediate human speech. We found that ~10% of the genes in the avian genome were regulated by singing, and we found a striking regional diversity of both basal and singing-induced programs in the four key song nuclei of the zebra finch, a vocal learning songbird. The region-enriched patterns were a result of distinct combinations of region-enriched transcription factors (TFs), their binding motifs, and presinging acetylation of histone 3 at lysine 27 (H3K27ac) enhancer activity in the regulatory regions of the associated genes. RNA interference manipulations validated the role of the calcium-response transcription factor (CaRF) in regulating genes preferentially expressed in specific song nuclei in response to singing. Thus, differential combinatorial binding of a small group of activity-regulated TFs and predefined epigenetic enhancer activity influences the anatomical diversity of behaviorally regulated gene networks.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Whitney, O; Pfenning, AR; Howard, JT; Blatti, CA; Liu, F; Ward, JM; Wang, R; Audet, J-N; Kellis, M; Mukherjee, S; Sinha, S; Hartemink, AJ; West, AE; Jarvis, ED

Published Date

  • December 12, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 346 / 6215

Start / End Page

  • 1256780 -

PubMed ID

  • 25504732

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25504732

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.1256780


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States