To provide a temporal framework for the genoarchitecture of brain development, we generated in situ hybridization data for embryonic and postnatal mouse brain at seven developmental stages for ?2,100 genes, which were processed with an automated informatics pipeline and manually annotated. This resource comprises 434,946 images, seven reference atlases, an ontogenetic ontology, and tools to explore coexpression of genes across neurodevelopment. Gene sets coinciding with developmental phenomena were identified. A temporal shift in the principles governing the molecular organization of the brain was detected, with transient neuromeric, plate-based organization of the brain present at E11.5 and E13.5. Finally, these data provided a transcription factor code that discriminates brain structures and identifies the developmental age of a tissue, providing a foundation for eventual genetic manipulation or tracking of specific brain structures over development. The resource is available as the Allen Developing Mouse Brain Atlas (http://developingmouse.brain-map.org).
Comprehensive knowledge of the brain's wiring diagram is fundamental for understanding how the nervous system processes information at both local and global scales. However, with the singular exception of the C. elegans microscale connectome, there are no complete connectivity data sets in other species. Here we report a brain-wide, cellular-level, mesoscale connectome for the mouse. The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas uses enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-expressing adeno-associated viral vectors to trace axonal projections from defined regions and cell types, and high-throughput serial two-photon tomography to image the EGFP-labelled axons throughout the brain. This systematic and standardized approach allows spatial registration of individual experiments into a common three dimensional (3D) reference space, resulting in a whole-brain connectivity matrix. A computational model yields insights into connectional strength distribution, symmetry and other network properties. Virtual tractography illustrates 3D topography among interconnected regions. Cortico-thalamic pathway analysis demonstrates segregation and integration of parallel pathways. The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas is a freely available, foundational resource for structural and functional investigations into the neural circuits that support behavioural and cognitive processes in health and disease.
The anatomical and functional architecture of the human brain is mainly determined by prenatal transcriptional processes. We describe an anatomically comprehensive atlas of the mid-gestational human brain, including de novo reference atlases, in situ hybridization, ultra-high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and microarray analysis on highly discrete laser-microdissected brain regions. In developing cerebral cortex, transcriptional differences are found between different proliferative and post-mitotic layers, wherein laminar signatures reflect cellular composition and developmental processes. Cytoarchitectural differences between human and mouse have molecular correlates, including species differences in gene expression in subplate, although surprisingly we find minimal differences between the inner and outer subventricular zones even though the outer zone is expanded in humans. Both germinal and post-mitotic cortical layers exhibit fronto-temporal gradients, with particular enrichment in the frontal lobe. Finally, many neurodevelopmental disorder and human-evolution-related genes show patterned expression, potentially underlying unique features of human cortical formation. These data provide a rich, freely-accessible resource for understanding human brain development.
As an anterograde neuronal tracer, recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) has distinct advantages over the widely used biotinylated dextran amine (BDA). However, the sensitivity and selectivity of AAV remain uncharacterized for many brain regions and species. To validate this tracing method further, AAV (serotype 1) was systematically compared with BDA as an anterograde tracer by injecting both tracers into three cortical and 15 subcortical regions in C57BL/6J mice. Identical parameters were used for our sequential iontophoretic injections, producing injections of AAV that were more robust in size and in density of neurons infected compared with those of BDA. However, these differences did not preclude further comparison between the tracers, because the pairs of injections were suitably colocalized and contained some percentage of double-labeled neurons. A qualitative analysis of projection patterns showed that the two tracers behave very similarly when injection sites are well matched. Additionally, a quantitative analysis of relative projection intensity for cases targeting primary motor cortex (MOp), primary somatosensory cortex (SSp), and caudoputamen (CP) showed strong agreement in the ranked order of projection intensities between the two tracers. A detailed analysis of the projections of two brain regions (SSp and MOp) revealed many targets that have not previously been described in the mouse or rat. Minor retrograde labeling of neurons was observed in all cases examined, for both AAV and BDA. Our results show that AAV has actions equivalent to those of BDA as an anterograde tracer and is suitable for analysis of neural circuitry throughout the mouse brain.
The neocortex contains diverse populations of excitatory neurons segregated by layer and further definable by their specific cortical and subcortical projection targets. The current study describes a systematic approach to identify molecular correlates of specific projection neuron classes in mouse primary somatosensory cortex (S1), using a combination of in situ hybridization (ISH) data mining, marker gene colocalization, and combined retrograde labeling with ISH for layer-specific marker genes. First, we identified a large set of genes with specificity for each cortical layer, and that display heterogeneous patterns within those layers. Using these genes as markers, we find extensive evidence for the covariation of gene expression and projection target specificity in layer 2/3, 5, and 6, with individual genes labeling neurons projecting to specific subsets of target structures. The combination of gene expression and target specificity imply a great diversity of projection neuron classes that is similar to or greater than that of GABAergic interneurons. The covariance of these 2 phenotypic modalities suggests that these classes are both discrete and genetically specified.
Considerable progress has been made in understanding variations in gene sequence and expression level associated with phenotype, yet how genetic diversity translates into complex phenotypic differences remains poorly understood. Here, we examine the relationship between genetic background and spatial patterns of gene expression across seven strains of mice, providing the most extensive cellular-resolution comparative analysis of gene expression in the mammalian brain to date. Using comprehensive brainwide anatomic coverage (more than 200 brain regions), we applied in situ hybridization to analyze the spatial expression patterns of 49 genes encoding well-known pharmaceutical drug targets. Remarkably, over 50% of the genes examined showed interstrain expression variation. In addition, the variability was nonuniformly distributed across strain and neuroanatomic region, suggesting certain organizing principles. First, the degree of expression variance among strains mirrors genealogic relationships. Second, expression pattern differences were concentrated in higher-order brain regions such as the cortex and hippocampus. Divergence in gene expression patterns across the brain could contribute significantly to variations in behavior and responses to neuroactive drugs in laboratory mouse strains and may help to explain individual differences in human responsiveness to neuroactive drugs.
The solute carrier (Slc) superfamily is a major group of membrane transport proteins present in mammalian cells. Although Slc transporters play essential and diverse roles in the central nervous system, the localization and function of the vast majority of Slc genes in the mammalian brain are largely unknown. Using high-throughput in situ hybridization data generated by the Allen Brain Atlas, we systematically and quantitatively analyzed the spatial and cellular distribution of 307 Slc genes, which represent nearly 90% of presently known mouse Slc genes, in the adult C57BL/6J mouse brain. Our analysis showed that 252 (82%) of the 307 Slc genes are present in the brain, and a large proportion of these genes were detected at low to moderate expression levels. Evaluation of 20 anatomical brain subdivisions demonstrated a comparable level of Slc gene complexity but significant difference in transcript enrichment. The distribution of the expressed Slc genes was diverse, ranging from near-ubiquitous to highly localized. Functional annotation in 20 brain regions, including the blood-brain and blood-cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) barriers, suggests major roles of Slc transporters in supporting brain energy utilization, neurotransmission, nutrient supply, and CSF production. Furthermore, hierarchical cluster analysis revealed intricate Slc expression patterns associated with neuroanatomical organization. Our studies also revealed Slc genes present within defined brain microstructures and described the putative cell types expressing individual Slc genes. These results provide a useful resource for investigators to explore the roles of Slc genes in neurophysiological and pathological processes.
Studying gene expression provides a powerful means of understanding structure-function relationships in the nervous system. The availability of genome-scale in situ hybridization datasets enables new possibilities for understanding brain organization based on gene expression patterns. The Anatomic Gene Expression Atlas (AGEA) is a new relational atlas revealing the genetic architecture of the adult C57Bl/6J mouse brain based on spatial correlations across expression data for thousands of genes in the Allen Brain Atlas (ABA). The AGEA includes three discovery tools for examining neuroanatomical relationships and boundaries: (1) three-dimensional expression-based correlation maps, (2) a hierarchical transcriptome-based parcellation of the brain and (3) a facility to retrieve from the ABA specific genes showing enriched expression in local correlated domains. The utility of this atlas is illustrated by analysis of genetic organization in the thalamus, striatum and cerebral cortex. The AGEA is a publicly accessible online computational tool integrated with the ABA (http://mouse.brain-map.org/agea).
Prions cause transmissible neurodegenerative diseases and replicate by conformational conversion of normal benign forms of prion protein (PrP(C)) to disease-causing PrP(Sc) isoforms. A systems approach to disease postulates that disease arises from perturbation of biological networks in the relevant organ. We tracked global gene expression in the brains of eight distinct mouse strain-prion strain combinations throughout the progression of the disease to capture the effects of prion strain, host genetics, and PrP concentration on disease incubation time. Subtractive analyses exploiting various aspects of prion biology and infection identified a core of 333 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) that appeared central to prion disease. DEGs were mapped into functional pathways and networks reflecting defined neuropathological events and PrP(Sc) replication and accumulation, enabling the identification of novel modules and modules that may be involved in genetic effects on incubation time and in prion strain specificity. Our systems analysis provides a comprehensive basis for developing models for prion replication and disease, and suggests some possible therapeutic approaches.
Neuroanatomically precise, genome-wide maps of transcript distributions are critical resources to complement genomic sequence data and to correlate functional and genetic brain architecture. Here we describe the generation and analysis of a transcriptional atlas of the adult human brain, comprising extensive histological analysis and comprehensive microarray profiling of ?900 neuroanatomically precise subdivisions in two individuals. Transcriptional regulation varies enormously by anatomical location, with different regions and their constituent cell types displaying robust molecular signatures that are highly conserved between individuals. Analysis of differential gene expression and gene co-expression relationships demonstrates that brain-wide variation strongly reflects the distributions of major cell classes such as neurons, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and microglia. Local neighbourhood relationships between fine anatomical subdivisions are associated with discrete neuronal subtypes and genes involved with synaptic transmission. The neocortex displays a relatively homogeneous transcriptional pattern, but with distinct features associated selectively with primary sensorimotor cortices and with enriched frontal lobe expression. Notably, the spatial topography of the neocortex is strongly reflected in its molecular topography-the closer two cortical regions, the more similar their transcriptomes. This freely accessible online data resource forms a high-resolution transcriptional baseline for neurogenetic studies of normal and abnormal human brain function.
Knowledge of the structure, genetics, circuits, and physiological properties of the mammalian brain in both normal and pathological states is ever increasing as research labs worldwide probe the various aspects of brain function. Until recently, however, comprehensive cataloging of gene expression across the central nervous system has been lacking. The Allen Institute for Brain Science, as part of its mission to propel neuroscience research, has completed several large gene-mapping projects in mouse, nonhuman primate, and human brain, producing informative online public resources and tools. Here we present the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas, covering ~20,000 genes throughout the adult mouse brain; the Allen Developing Mouse Brain Atlas, detailing expression of approximately 2,000 important developmental genes across seven embryonic and postnatal stages of brain growth; and the Allen Spinal Cord Atlas, revealing expression for ~20,000 genes in the adult and neonatal mouse spinal cords. Integrated data-mining tools, including reference atlases, informatics analyses, and 3-D viewers, are described. For these massive-scale projects, high-throughput industrial techniques were developed to standardize and reliably repeat experimental goals. To verify consistency and accuracy, a detailed analysis of the 1,000 most viewed genes for the adult mouse brain (according to website page views) was performed by comparing our data with peer-reviewed literature and other databases. We show that our data are highly consistent with independent sources and provide a comprehensive compendium of information and tools used by thousands of researchers each month. All data and tools are freely available via the Allen Brain Atlas portal (www.brain-map.org).
Although there have been major advances in elucidating the functional biology of the human brain, relatively little is known of its cellular and molecular organization. Here we report a large-scale characterization of the expression of ?1,000 genes important for neural functions by in situ hybridization at a cellular resolution in visual and temporal cortices of adult human brains. These data reveal diverse gene expression patterns and remarkable conservation of each individual genes expression among individuals (95%), cortical areas (84%), and between human and mouse (79%). A small but substantial number of genes (21%) exhibited species-differential expression. Distinct molecular signatures, comprised of genes both common between species and unique to each, were identified for each major cortical cell type. The data suggest that gene expression profile changes may contribute to differential cortical function across species, and in particular, a shift from corticosubcortical to more predominant corticocortical communications in the human brain.
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