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

Saurabh Sinha, Beryl M. Jones, Ian M. Traniello, Syed A. Bukhari, Marc S. Halfon, Hans A. Hofmann, Sui Huang, Paul S. Katz, Jason Keagy, Vincent J. Lynch, Marla B. Sokolowski, Lisa J. Stubbs, Shayan Tabe-Bordbar, Mariana F. Wolfner, Gene E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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 behaviorrelated 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 cis-regulatory architecture underlies this special class of behavior, and review literature that suggests an affirmative answer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23270-23279
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2020


  • Behavior
  • Development
  • Network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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