A high sensitivity ZENK monoclonal antibody to map neuronal activity in Aves

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 22;10(1):915. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-57757-6.


The transcription factor ZENK is an immediate early gene that has been employed as a surrogate marker to map neuronal activity in the brain. It has been used in a wide variety of species, however, commercially available antibodies have limited immunoreactivity in birds. To address this issue we generated a new mouse monoclonal antibody, 7B7-A3, raised against ZENK from the rock pigeon (Columba livia). We show that 7B7-A3 labels clZENK in both immunoblots and histological stainings with high sensitivity and selectivity for its target. Using a sound stimulation paradigm we demonstrate that 7B7-A3 can detect activity-dependent ZENK expression at key stations of the central auditory pathway of the pigeon. Finally, we compare staining efficiency across three avian species and confirm that 7B7-A3 is compatible with immunohistochemical detection of ZENK in the rock pigeon, zebra finch, and domestic chicken. Taken together, 7B7-A3 represents a useful tool for the avian neuroscience community to map functional activity in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived* / metabolism
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Birds / immunology*
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Columbidae
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1 / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • Egr1 protein, mouse