Molecular changes associated with migratory departure from wintering areas in obligate songbird migrants

Aakansha Sharma, Devraj Singh, Priya Gupta, Sanjay Kumar Bhardwaj, Inderjeet Kaur, Vinod Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Day length regulates the development of spring migratory and subsequent reproductive phenotypes in avian migrants. This study used molecular approaches, and compared mRNA and proteome-wide expression in captive redheaded buntings that were photostimulated under long-day (LD) conditions for 4 days (early stimulated, LD-eS) or for ∼3 weeks until each bird had shown 4 successive nights of Zugunruhe (stimulated, LD-S); controls were maintained under short days. After ∼3 weeks of LD, photostimulated indices of the migratory preparedness (fattening, weight gain and Zugunruhe) were paralleled with upregulated expression of acc, dgat2 and apoa1 genes in the liver, and of cd36, fabp3 and cpt1 genes in the flight muscle, suggesting enhanced fatty acid (FA) synthesis and transport in the LD-S state. Concurrently, elevated expression of genes involved in the calcium ion signalling and transport (camk1 and atp2a2; camk2a in LD-eS), cellular stress (hspa8 and sod1, not nos2) and metabolic pathways (apoa1 and sirt1), but not of genes associated with migratory behaviour (adcyap1 and vps13a), were found in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH). Further, MBH-specific quantitative proteomics revealed that out of 503 annotated proteins, 28 were differentially expressed (LD-eS versus LD-S: 21 up-regulated and 7 down-regulated) and they enriched five physiological pathways that are associated with FA transport and metabolism. These first comprehensive results on gene and protein expression suggest that changes in molecular correlates of FA transport and metabolism may aid the decision for migratory departure from wintering areas in obligate songbird migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb242153
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd


  • Bunting
  • Gene expression
  • Migration
  • Proteome
  • Songbird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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