Knockout of Foxp2 disrupts vocal development in mice

Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 16:6:23305. doi: 10.1038/srep23305.


The FOXP2 gene is important for the development of proper speech motor control in humans. However, the role of the gene in general vocal behavior in other mammals, including mice, is unclear. Here, we track the vocal development of Foxp2 heterozygous knockout (Foxp2+/-) mice and their wildtype (WT) littermates from juvenile to adult ages, and observe severe abnormalities in the courtship song of Foxp2+/- mice. In comparison to their WT littermates, Foxp2+/- mice vocalized less, produced shorter syllable sequences, and possessed an abnormal syllable inventory. In addition, Foxp2+/- song also exhibited irregular rhythmic structure, and its development did not follow the consistent trajectories observed in WT vocalizations. These results demonstrate that the Foxp2 gene is critical for normal vocal behavior in juvenile and adult mice, and that Foxp2 mutant mice may provide a tractable model system for the study of the gene's role in general vocal motor control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Courtship
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Vocalization, Animal


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxp2 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins