[en] brain plasticity ; song control nuclei ; HVC ; songbird ; starling ; Sturnus vulgaris
[en] Reelin, a large glycoprotein defective in reeler mice, is assumed to determine the final location of migrating neurons in the developing brain. We studied the expression of Reelin in the brain of adult male European starlings that had been treated or not with exogenous testosterone. Reelin-immunoreactive cells and fibers were widely distributed in the forebrain including areas in and around the song control nucleus, HVC. No labeling was detected in other song control nuclei with the exception of nucleus uvaeformis, which was delineated by a dense cluster of Reelin-immunoreactive perikarya. Reelin is thus expressed in areas incorporating new neurons in adulthood, such as HVC. Reelin expression was sharply decreased by testosterone in HVC, nucleus uvaeformis and dorsal thalamus but not in other brain regions. These results are consistent with the idea that seasonal changes in Reelin expression modulate the incorporation of neurons within HVC. The presence of Reelin in other brain areas that do not incorporate new neurons in adulthood indicates, however, that this protein must play other unrelated roles in the adult brain. Additional studies should now be carried out to determine the specific role played by this protein in the seasonal plasticity of the songbird brain.