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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Estrogen receptors in the avian brain: survey reveals general distribution and forebrain areas unique to songbirds.

Estrogens play an important role in the control and differentiation of species-typical behavior and in endocrine homeostasis of birds, but the distribution and evolution of cells that contain estrogen receptors in the avian brain are poorly understood. This study therefore surveys 26 species in the avian orders Anseriformes (1 species), Galliformes (2), Columbiformes (3), Psittaciformes (1), Apodiformes (2), and Passeriformes (3 suboscines, 14 oscines). Indirect immunocytochemistry with the estrogen receptor ( ER) antibody H222Spy revealed a general pattern of ER-antibody-immunoreactive cells (ER-IRC) in all 26 species, with ER-IRC in consistent, well-defined locations in the limbic forebrain, the midbrain striatum, the hippocampus, the hindbrain, and especially in the preoptic area and the tuberal hypothalamus. For some species, the microdistribution of ER-IRC in some of these general areas differed, such as in the hippocampus and the anterior hypothalamus of suboscine species and in the preoptic area of the Japanese quail. Brains of oscine songbirds of both sexes, unlike brains of nonsongbirds, had ER-IRC in three specific structures of the nonlimbic forebrain: in the area surrounding the nucleus robustus archistriatalis; in the rostral forebrain; and, for all individuals, in the caudale neostriatum, including the nucleus hyperstriatalis ventrale, pars caudale (HVc). Among songbird families or subfamilies, adult males of the Estrildinae had much lower numbers of ER-IRC in HVc than did adult males of the Fringillidae, Paridae, Sturnidae, and Ploceinae. Differences occurred, too, among closely related species: the songbird canary (Serinus canaria) had an ER-IRC area in the rostral forebrain that was lacking in all other songbird species, including other cardueline finches. The cells with ER that are found only in the songbird forebrain but not in reptiles, nonpasserine birds, and nonoscine passerine birds very likely coevolved with steroid-dependent differentiation of vocal control areas. The songbird-specific expression of ER in the forebrain could be an example in which taxon-specific behavior is due to taxon specific neurochemical properties of the brain.[1]


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