Conservation of regional gene expression in mouse and human brain.
ABSTRACT: Many neurodegenerative diseases have a hallmark regional and cellular pathology. Gene expression analysis of healthy tissues may provide clues to the differences that distinguish resistant and sensitive tissues and cell types. Comparative analysis of gene expression in healthy mouse and human brain provides a framework to explore the ability of mice to model diseases of the human brain. It may also aid in understanding brain evolution and the basis for higher order cognitive abilities. Here we compare gene expression profiles of human motor cortex, caudate nucleus, and cerebellum to one another and identify genes that are more highly expressed in one region relative to another. We separately perform identical analysis on corresponding brain regions from mice. Within each species, we find that the different brain regions have distinctly different expression profiles. Contrasting between the two species shows that regionally enriched genes in one species are generally regionally enriched genes in the other species. Thus, even when considering thousands of genes, the expression ratios in two regions from one species are significantly correlated with expression ratios in the other species. Finally, genes whose expression is higher in one area of the brain relative to the other areas, in other words genes with patterned expression, tend to have greater conservation of nucleotide sequence than more widely expressed genes. Together these observations suggest that region-specific genes have been conserved in the mammalian brain at both the sequence and gene expression levels. Given the general similarity between patterns of gene expression in healthy human and mouse brains, we believe it is reasonable to expect a high degree of concordance between microarray phenotypes of human neurodegenerative diseases and their mouse models. Finally, these data on very divergent species provide context for studies in more closely related species that address questions such as the origins of cognitive differences.
Project description:The Pleiades Promoter Project aims to improve gene therapy by designing human mini-promoters (< 4 kb) that drive gene expression in specific brain regions or cell-types of therapeutic interest. Our goal was to first identify genes displaying regionally enriched expression in the mouse brain so that promoters designed from orthologous human genes can then be tested to drive reporter expression in a similar pattern in the mouse brain.We have utilized LongSAGE to identify regionally enriched transcripts in the adult mouse brain. As supplemental strategies, we also performed a meta-analysis of published literature and inspected the Allen Brain Atlas in situ hybridization data. From a set of approximately 30,000 mouse genes, 237 were identified as showing specific or enriched expression in 30 target regions of the mouse brain. GO term over-representation among these genes revealed co-involvement in various aspects of central nervous system development and physiology.Using a multi-faceted expression validation approach, we have identified mouse genes whose human orthologs are good candidates for design of mini-promoters. These mouse genes represent molecular markers in several discrete brain regions/cell-types, which could potentially provide a mechanistic explanation of unique functions performed by each region. This set of markers may also serve as a resource for further studies of gene regulatory elements influencing brain expression.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The choroid plexus epithelium (CPE) is a lobed neuro-epithelial structure that forms the outer blood-brain barrier. The CPE protrudes into the brain ventricles and produces the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is crucial for brain homeostasis. Malfunction of the CPE is possibly implicated in disorders like Alzheimer disease, hydrocephalus or glaucoma. To study human genetic diseases and potential new therapies, mouse models are widely used. This requires a detailed knowledge of similarities and differences in gene expression and functional annotation between the species. The aim of this study is to analyze and compare gene expression and functional annotation of healthy human and mouse CPE. METHODS: We performed 44k Agilent microarray hybridizations with RNA derived from laser dissected healthy human and mouse CPE cells. We functionally annotated and compared the gene expression data of human and mouse CPE using the knowledge database Ingenuity. We searched for common and species specific gene expression patterns and function between human and mouse CPE. We also made a comparison with previously published CPE human and mouse gene expression data. RESULTS: Overall, the human and mouse CPE transcriptomes are very similar. Their major functionalities included epithelial junctions, transport, energy production, neuro-endocrine signaling, as well as immunological, neurological and hematological functions and disorders. The mouse CPE presented two additional functions not found in the human CPE: carbohydrate metabolism and a more extensive list of (neural) developmental functions. We found three genes specifically expressed in the mouse CPE compared to human CPE, being ACE, PON1 and TRIM3 and no human specifically expressed CPE genes compared to mouse CPE. CONCLUSION: Human and mouse CPE transcriptomes are very similar, and display many common functionalities. Nonetheless, we also identified a few genes and pathways which suggest that the CPE between mouse and man differ with respect to transport and metabolic functions.
Project description:A major question in human genetics is how sequence variants of broadly expressed genes produce tissue- and cell type-specific molecular phenotypes. Genetic variation of alternative splicing is a prevalent source of transcriptomic and proteomic diversity in human populations. We investigated splicing quantitative trait loci (sQTLs) in 1,209 samples from 13 human brain regions, using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and genotype data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project. Hundreds of sQTLs were identified in each brain region. Some sQTLs were shared across brain regions, whereas others displayed regional specificity. These "regionally ubiquitous" and "regionally specific" sQTLs showed distinct positional distributions of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within and outside essential splice sites, respectively, suggesting their regulation by distinct molecular mechanisms. Integrating the binding motifs and expression patterns of RNA binding proteins with exon splicing profiles, we uncovered likely causal variants underlying brain region-specific sQTLs. Notably, SNP rs17651213 created a putative binding site for the splicing factor RBFOX2 and was associated with increased splicing of MAPT exon 3 in cerebellar tissues, where RBFOX2 was highly expressed. Overall, our study reveals a more comprehensive spectrum and regional variation of sQTLs in human brain and demonstrates that such regional variation can be used to fine map potential causal variants of sQTLs and their associated neurological diseases.
Project description:Identifying the molecular programs underlying human organ development and how they differ from model species is key for understanding human health and disease. Developmental gene expression profiles provide a window into the genes underlying organ development and a direct means to compare them across species. We use a transcriptomic resource covering the development of seven organs to characterize the temporal profiles of human genes associated with distinct disease classes and to determine, for each human gene, the similarity of its spatiotemporal expression with its orthologs in rhesus macaque, mouse, rat, and rabbit. We find clear associations between spatiotemporal profiles and the phenotypic manifestations of diseases. We also find that half of human genes differ from their mouse orthologs in their temporal trajectories in at least one of the organs. These include more than 200 genes associated with brain, heart, and liver disease for which mouse models should undergo extra scrutiny.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The glycoprotein, Syncytin-1, is encoded by a human endogenous retrovirus (HERV)-W env gene and is capable of inducing neuroinflammation. The specific allele(s) responsible for Syncytin-1 expression in the brain is uncertain. Herein, HERV-W env diversity together with Syncytin-1 abundance and host immune gene profiles were examined in the nervous system using a multiplatform approach. RESULTS: HERV-W env sequences were encoded by multiple chromosomal encoding loci in primary human neurons compared with less chromosomal diversity in astrocytes and microglia (p<0.05). HERV-W env RNA sequences cloned from brains of patients with systemic or neurologic diseases were principally derived from chromosomal locus 7q21.2. Within the same specimens, HERV-W env transcript levels were correlated with the expression of multiple proinflammatory genes (p<0.05). Deep sequencing of brain transcriptomes disclosed the env transcripts to be the most abundant HERV-W transcripts, showing greater expression in fetal compared with healthy adult brain specimens. Syncytin-1's expression in healthy brain specimens was derived from multiple encoding loci and linked to distinct immune and developmental gene profiles. CONCLUSIONS: Syncytin-1 expression in the brain during disease was associated with neuroinflammation and was principally encoded by a full length provirus. The present studies also highlighted the diversity in HERV gene expression within the brain and reinforce the potential contributions of HERV expression to neuroinflammatory diseases.
Project description:Brain function is governed by precise regulation of gene expression across its anatomically distinct structures; however, the expression patterns of genes across hundreds of brain structures are not clearly understood. Here, we describe a gene expression model, which is representative of the healthy human brain transcriptome by using data from the Allen Brain Atlas. Our in-depth gene expression profiling revealed that 84% of genes are expressed in at least one of the 190 brain structures studied. Hierarchical clustering based on gene expression profiles delineated brain regions into structurally tiered spatial groups and we observed striking enrichment for region-specific processes. Further, weighted co-expression network analysis identified 19 robust modules of highly correlated genes enriched with functional associations for neurogenesis, dopamine signaling, immune regulation and behavior. Also, structural distribution maps of major neurotransmission systems in the brain were generated. Finally, we developed a supervised classification model, which achieved 84% and 81% accuracies for predicting autism- and Parkinson's-implicated genes, respectively, using our expression model as a baseline. This study represents the first use of global gene expression profiling from healthy human brain to develop a disease gene prediction model and this generic methodology can be applied to study any neurological disorder.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Despite its estimated high heritability, the genetic architecture leading to differences in cognitive performance remains poorly understood. Different cortical regions play important roles in normal cognitive functioning and impairment. Recently, we reported on sets of regionally enriched genes in three different cortical areas (frontomedial, temporal and occipital cortices) of the adult rat brain. It has been suggested that genes preferentially, or specifically, expressed in one region or organ reflect functional specialisation. Employing a gene-based approach to the analysis, we used the regionally enriched cortical genes to mine a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the Norwegian Cognitive NeuroGenetics (NCNG) sample of healthy adults for association to nine psychometric tests measures. In addition, we explored GWAS data sets for the serious psychiatric disorders schizophrenia (SCZ) (n = 3 samples) and bipolar affective disorder (BP) (n = 3 samples), to which cognitive impairment is linked. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:At the single gene level, the temporal cortex enriched gene RAR-related orphan receptor B (RORB) showed the strongest overall association, namely to a test of verbal intelligence (Vocabulary, P = 7.7E-04). We also applied gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) to test the candidate genes, as gene sets, for enrichment of association signal in the NCNG GWAS and in GWASs of BP and of SCZ. We found that genes differentially expressed in the temporal cortex showed a significant enrichment of association signal in a test measure of non-verbal intelligence (Reasoning) in the NCNG sample. CONCLUSION:Our gene-based approach suggests that RORB could be involved in verbal intelligence differences, while the genes enriched in the temporal cortex might be important to intellectual functions as measured by a test of reasoning in the healthy population. These findings warrant further replication in independent samples on cognitive traits.
Project description:Aerobic glycolysis (AG; i.e., nonoxidative metabolism of glucose despite the presence of abundant oxygen) accounts for 10%-12% of glucose used by the adult human brain. AG varies regionally in the resting state. Brain AG may support synaptic growth and remodeling; however, data supporting this hypothesis are sparse. Here, we report on investigations on the role of AG in the human brain. Meta-analysis of prior brain glucose and oxygen metabolism studies demonstrates that AG increases during childhood, precisely when synaptic growth rates are highest. In resting adult humans, AG correlates with the persistence of gene expression typical of infancy (transcriptional neoteny). In brain regions with the highest AG, we find increased gene expression related to synapse formation and growth. In contrast, regions high in oxidative glucose metabolism express genes related to mitochondria and synaptic transmission. Our results suggest that brain AG supports developmental processes, particularly those required for synapse formation and growth.
Project description:The human microbiome plays important roles in health, but when disrupted, these same indigenous microbes can cause disease. The composition of the microbiome changes during the transition from health to disease; however, these changes are often not conserved among patients. Since microbiome-associated diseases like periodontitis cause similar patient symptoms despite interpatient variability in microbial community composition, we hypothesized that human-associated microbial communities undergo conserved changes in metabolism during disease. Here, we used patient-matched healthy and diseased samples to compare gene expression of 160,000 genes in healthy and diseased periodontal communities. We show that health- and disease-associated communities exhibit defined differences in metabolism that are conserved between patients. In contrast, the metabolic gene expression of individual species was highly variable between patients. These results demonstrate that despite high interpatient variability in microbial composition, disease-associated communities display conserved metabolic profiles that are generally accomplished by a patient-specific cohort of microbes. IMPORTANCE The human microbiome project has shown that shifts in our microbiota are associated with many diseases, including obesity, Crohn's disease, diabetes, and periodontitis. While changes in microbial populations are apparent during these diseases, the species associated with each disease can vary from patient to patient. Taking into account this interpatient variability, we hypothesized that specific microbiota-associated diseases would be marked by conserved microbial community behaviors. Here, we use gene expression analyses of patient-matched healthy and diseased human periodontal plaque to show that microbial communities have highly conserved metabolic gene expression profiles, whereas individual species within the community do not. Furthermore, disease-associated communities exhibit conserved changes in metabolic and virulence gene expression.
Project description:Aging is regarded as a major risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, a better understanding of the similarities between the aging process and neurodegenerative diseases at the cellular and molecular level may reveal better understanding of this detrimental relationship. In the present study, we mined publicly available gene expression datasets from healthy individuals and patients affected by neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease) across a broad age spectrum and compared those with mouse aging and mouse cell-type specific gene expression profiles. We performed weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) and found a gene network strongly related with both aging and neurodegenerative diseases. This network was significantly enriched with a microglial signature as imputed from cell type-specific sequencing data. Since mouse models are extensively used for the study of human diseases, we further compared these human gene regulatory networks with age-specific mouse brain transcriptomes. We discovered significantly preserved networks with both human aging and human disease and identified 17 shared genes in the top-ranked immune/microglia module, among which we found five human hub genes TYROBP, FCER1G, ITGB2, MYO1F, PTPRC, and two mouse hub genes Trem2 and C1qa. Taken together, these results support the hypothesis that microglia are key players involved in human aging and neurodegenerative diseases, and suggest that mouse models should be appropriate for studying these microglial changes in human.