Developmental biology

Defining structural homology between the mammalian and avian hippocampus through conserved gene expression patterns observed in the chick embryo.

PMID 22537492


The mammalian hippocampus, a center of neurogenesis in the adult brain, is involved in critical functions such as learning and memory processing. Although there is an overall functional conservation between birds and mammals in the hippocampal region of the brain, there are several morphological differences. A few different models have been proposed for identifying regional and structural homology between the avian and mammalian hippocampus however a consensus is yet to be reached. In this study we have systematically and comprehensively characterized the developing chicken hippocampus at the molecular level. We have identified the time window of neurogenesis and apoptosis during hippocampal development as well as the likely origin and migration path of neurons of the ventral v-shaped region of chick hippocampus. In addition to this we have identified several genes with expression patterns that are conserved between the hippocampus of chicken and mice. Our study provides molecular data that partially supports one of the models reported in literature for structural homology between the avian and mammalian hippocampus. Functional characterization of the genes found in this study to be specifically expressed in the developing chicken hippocampus is likely to provide valuable information on the mechanisms regulating hippocampus development of birds and perhaps could be extrapolated to mammalian hippocampus development as well.