Validation of a new antiserum directed towards the synthetic c-terminus of the FOS protein in avian species: immunological, physiological and behavioral evidence.
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In the past 10 years, the study of the expression of immediate early genes, such as c-fos, in the brain has become a common method for the identification of brain areas involved in the regulation of specific physiological and behavioral functions. The use of this method in avian species has been limited by the paucity of suitable antibodies that cross-react with the FOS protein in birds. We describe in this paper the preparation of an antibody directed against a synthetic fragment of the protein product of the c-fos gene in chickens (Gallus domesticus). We demonstrate that this new antibody can be used in several avian species to study FOS expression induced by a variety of pharmacological, physiological and behavioral stimuli. Western blot studies indicated that this antibody recognizes a protein of the expected size (47 kDa) but also cross reacts to some extent with proteins of lower molecular weight that share sequence homology with FOS (Fos-related antigens). FOS immunocytochemistry was performed with this antibody in four species of birds in three different laboratories utilizing diverse variants of the immunocytochemical procedure. In all cases the antibody provided a reliable identification of the FOS antigen. The new antibody described here appears to be suitable for the study of FOS expression in several different avian species and situations. It is available in substantial amounts and will therefore make it possible to use FOS expression as a tool to map brain activity in birds as has now been done for several years in mammalian species.