Expression of cAMP response element binding protein-binding protein in the song control system and hypothalamus of adult European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

C. J. Auger, G. E. Bentley, A. P. Auger, M. Ramamurthy, G. F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In songbirds, the initiation of song behaviour and the neural substrate of this system are highly influenced by gonadal steroids. Receptors for gonadal steroid hormones, such as androgens and oestrogens, have been localized within select nuclei of the song system. An important step in steroid receptor action is the recruitment of nuclear receptor coactivators. The coactivator, cAMP response element binding protein (CREB)-binding protein (CBP), has been implicated in both androgen and oestrogen receptor transactivation. Although the role of CBP in transcriptional mechanisms has been widely studied, little is known about CBP expression in the brain. The association between the distribution of CBP and oestrogen receptors in the hippocampus has been related to long-term memory. However, the distribution of brain CBP has not been related to the expression of gonadal steroid receptors in a system as relevant to reproductive behaviour as the avian song system. Western immunoblotting of European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) brain tissue reveals a band at 265 kDa. Immunohistochemical localization of CBP in starling brain indicates wide, but heterogeneous expression. CBP-immunoreactive (CBP-ir) cells define the boundaries of song control nuclei. In HVc (sometimes called the High Vocal Center) and the robust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA), there is a higher density of CBP-ir cells within the boundaries of these nuclei than in adjacent neostriatum or archistriatum, for HVc and RA, respectively. We also report that the distribution of CBP-ir cells varies among different nuclei within the song control system. CBP-ir cells within area X (also a part of the song system) and HVc are densely packed into clusters, whereas cells can be easily discriminated in RA. CBP is also highly expressed in hypothalamic areas, indicating that areas rich in steroid receptors also contain CBP. These data suggest that CBP is important for modulating transcriptional activities in the song system and other sites in the songbird brain that express gonadal steroid receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-813
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgen receptor
  • Coactivators
  • Gonadal steroid hormones
  • Oestrogen receptor
  • Reproductive behaviour
  • Song behaviour
  • Songbird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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