Behavior-related gene regulatory networks: A new level of organization in the brain.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


behavior; development; network; genomics


Neuronal networks are the standard heuristic model today for describing brain activity associated with animal behavior. Recent studies have revealed an extensive role for a completely distinct layer of networked activities in the brain-the gene regulatory network (GRN)-that orchestrates expression levels of hundreds to thousands of genes in a behavior-related manner. We examine emerging insights into the relationships between these two types of networks and discuss their interplay in spatial as well as temporal dimensions, across multiple scales of organization. We discuss properties expected of behavior-related GRNs by drawing inspiration from the rich literature on GRNs related to animal development, comparing and contrasting these two broad classes of GRNs as they relate to their respective phenotypic manifestations. Developmental GRNs also represent a third layer of network biology, playing out over a third timescale, which is believed to play a crucial mediatory role between neuronal networks and behavioral GRNs. We end with a special emphasis on social behavior, discuss whether unique GRN organization and


Institute for Systems Biology