Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fine-scale analysis of the human brain yields insight into its distinctive composition

13.04.2012
Study published in Cell by Allen Institute for Brain Science examines cellular and molecular organization of human and mouse brain

Scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science have identified similarities and differences among regions of the human brain, among the brains of human individuals, and between humans and mice by analyzing the expression of approximately 1,000 genes in the brain.

The study, published online today in the journal Cell, sheds light on the human brain in general and also serves as an introduction to what the associated publicly available dataset can offer the scientific community.

This study reveals a high degree of similarity among human individuals. Only 5% of the nearly 1,000 genes surveyed in three particular regions show differences in expression between humans. In addition, comparison of this dataset to data in the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas indicates great consistency between humans and mice, as the human visual cortex appears to share 79% of its gene expression with that of the mouse.

The dataset, which is publicly available online via the Allen Brain Atlas data portal (www.brain-map.org) as part of the Allen Human Brain Atlas, holds promise for spurring further discoveries across the research community. Specifically, it contains detailed, cellular-level in situ hybridization gene expression data for about 1,000 genes, selected for their involvement in disease or neural function, in two distinct cortical areas of several disease-free adult human brains, both male and female.

Genes analyzed in this study fall into three categories: genes that serve as indicators of cell types found in the cortex, genes that are related to particular neural functions or diseases of the central nervous system, and genes that hold value for understanding the neural evolution of different species.

Human brain

The analysis published today reveals high consistency of gene expression among different regions of the human cortex—the outer rind of the mammalian brain responsible for sophisticated information processing—specifically the temporal and visual cortices. The vast majority of genes expressed in these areas, 84%, demonstrate consistent expression patterns between cortical areas. This finding supports the hypothesis that there are common principles of organization and function that apply throughout the cortex, and therefore studying one area in great detail—the visual cortex, for example—may hold promise for uncovering fundamentals about how the whole brain works. The study also illustrates widespread conservation of gene expression among human individuals. The study reports that of the genes analyzed, only 46 (5%) showed variation in expression among individual, disease-free human brains in the cortical areas examined.

Distinctions among species

Several findings in the study point to differences and similarities between humans and mice. As the mouse is the most common model for the study of human brain function and diseases, it is crucial to understand how well it represents the human system and where its accuracy may be limited. Overall, the results of this study indicate good conservation of gene expression between the two species. While the majority of gene expression is similar, the authors of the study report some striking differences.

The findings reveal distinct molecular markers specific to each species. Tracing those genes attributable to particular cell types—the building blocks of brain circuits—the study authors point to a unique molecular signature for each cortical cell type. These molecular signatures may reflect and contribute to species-specific functions.

According to the study, only 21% of gene expression in the visual cortex exhibited differences between human and mouse, but the nature of those differences may reveal more about what makes us uniquely human. While very little variation among genes in the disease and evolution categories was observed, substantial variation was reported among genes in the cell types category, with a marked number of those genes known to be involved in cell-to-cell communication. These data suggest that intercellular communication may be a key link to unique brain function in humans.

Advancing the field

To date, other studies examining human gene expression have employed either a segmented region of the brain or a select set of genes without specific anatomic information. This human brain dataset as well as the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas and the hundreds of studies published using its data demonstrate that adding high-resolution, cellular-level spatial information to gene expression profiling studies allows scientists to learn a great deal more about how genes contribute to cell types, neural circuits, and ultimately brain function.

The study published today offers a deep introduction to the kinds of information that can be mined from this dataset and the types of hypotheses that it can be used to test. The entire body of data is incorporated into the Allen Human Brain Atlas and is freely available via the Allen Brain Atlas data portal at www.brain-map.org.

Citation: Zeng et al., Large-Scale Cellular-Resolution Gene Profiling in Human Neocortex Reveals Species-Specific Molecular Signatures. Cell (2012) doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.02.052

About the Allen Institute for Brain Science

The Allen Institute for Brain Science (www.alleninstitute.org) is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to accelerating understanding of the human brain by fueling discovery for the broader scientific community. Through a product-focused approach, the Allen Institute generates innovative public resources used by researchers and organizations around the globe. Additionally, the Institute drives technological and analytical advances, thereby creating new knowledge and providing new ways to address questions about the brain in health and disease. Started with $100 million in seed money from philanthropist Paul G. Allen, the Institute is supported by a diversity of public and private funds. The Allen Institute's data and tools are publicly available online at www.brain-map.org.

Steven Cooper | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.alleninstitute.org
http://www.brain-map.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>