Foxp2 and Foxp1 are recently identified members of the Fox family of winged-helix/forkhead transcription factor genes. A recent study has found that mutations in human FOXP2 produce a severe language disorder. Since Foxp2 appears to be important in language, we wanted to explore the expression of this gene and a homologous gene, Foxp1, in the developing brain. In the present study, we investigated the time course and localization of Foxp2 and Foxp1 mRNA and protein expression in the developing and adult mouse using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Foxp2 and Foxp1 are expressed as early as E12.5 and persist into adulthood. Foxp2 and Foxp1 were most highly expressed in the developing and mature basal ganglia. Expression of Foxp2 was also observed in the cerebral cortex (layer 6), cerebellum (Purkinje neurons), and thalamus. Foxp1 expression was observed in the cerebral cortex (layers 3-5), hippocampus (CA1), and thalamus. Very little ventricular zone expression was observed for Foxp2 and Foxp1 and the expression of both of these genes occurred following neuronal migration, suggesting a role for these genes in postmigratory neuronal differentiation. Furthermore, we demonstrated the expression of FOXP2 in human fetal brain by RT-PCR, in the perisylvian area of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, as well as in the frontal and occipital cortices. Overall, the widespread expression of Foxp2 in the developing brain makes it difficult to draw specific conclusions about which areas of Foxp2 expression are critical to human language function.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.