Comparative transcriptomics analysis of brain hypothalamic region in female zebra finches: A gene level study of Parental care
Rashmi Kumari1, 5, Emese A. Fazekas1, 2, Boglárka Morvai2, Gergely Zachar3, Kathryn Maher4, Araxi Urrutia4, Tamás Székely4, Ákos Pogány2, Árpád Dobolyi1, 5
Mammalian mothers take care of the offspring by lactation and by behaviors characteristic of the postpartum period. To separate behavioral and endocrine components of the gene expressional changes, we used an avian species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia Guttata), which does not lactate to identify genes related specifically to caring behavior. Our previous study suggested that hypothalamic and septal regions demonstrated the most significant activation in response to feeding the young. Therefore, we dissected these brain regions and examined its gene expression with RNA sequencing. The experimental group was female zebra finches feeding their nestlings together with their male mate at post-hatching day 13. The control group included females, which formed a social group with a male but without eggs or nestlings due to the absence of nest material . We found 16 well- annotated genes showing differential expression between the two groups with a fold change of 2 or above and adjusted p-value < 0.05. In comparison to the non-mother female Zebra finches, the mother group had 5 genes (SLC10A4, TPH2, TH, SLC6A2, RAB18) upregulated. They also showed significant enrichment in genes related to social behaviors and dopamine biosynthetic process. The KEGG tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) metabolism pathway was enriched in the mother group of Zebra finch suggesting that the nestlings play a more significant role in enhancing the stimulation of dopamine based reward system more than the male partner without nestlings. Grant support: NKFIH-4300-1/2017-NKP_17 (NAP2), NKFIH-OTKA K116538.