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    The vertebrate basal forebrain and midbrain contain a set of interconnected nuclei that control social behavior. Conserved anatomical structures and functions of these nuclei have now been documented among fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, and these brain regions have come to be known as the vertebrate social behavior network (SBN). While it is known that nuclei (nodes) of the SBN are rich in steroid and neuropeptide activity linked to behavior, simultaneous variation in the expression of neuroendocrine genes among several SBN nuclei has not yet been described in detail. In this study, we use RNA-seq to profile gene expression across seven brain regions representing five nodes of the vertebrate SBN in a passerine bird, the wire-tailed manakin Pipra filicauda. Using weighted gene co-expression network analysis, we reconstructed sets of coregulated genes, showing striking patterns of variation in neuroendocrine gene expression across the SBN. We describe regional variation in gene networks comprising a broad set of hormone receptors, neuropeptides, steroidogenic enzymes, catecholamines and other neuroendocrine signaling molecules. Our findings show heterogeneous patterns of brain gene expression across nodes of the avian SBN and provide a foundation for future analyses of how the regulation of gene networks may mediate social behavior. These results highlight the importance of region-specific sampling in studies of the mechanisms of behavior. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.


    Brent M Horton, Thomas B Ryder, Ignacio T Moore, Christopher N Balakrishnan. Gene expression in the social behavior network of the wire-tailed manakin (Pipra filicauda) brain. Genes, brain, and behavior. 2020 Jan;19(1):e12560

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    PMID: 30756473

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