A comprehensive digital map of gene expression in the mouse brain, which will have an impact on the fields of neuroscience and mammalian genomics alike, is described in a paper published online in the 07 December 2006 issue of Nature (Vol. 444, No. 7120). It details the expression patterns of approximately 20,000 genes in the mouse brain, 80% of which appear to be expressed above background levels.
The characteristic properties of different cells within the mammalian central nervous system occur largely as a result of the unique combinations of gene products they express. Ed Lein and colleagues used automated, high-throughput techniques to map, at cellular resolution, gene expression in the adult mouse brain. They used their data to compile the Allen Brain Atlas, a highly standardized, open-access, primary data resource.
This map represents a significant new source of information to help scientists navigate the still relatively poorly characterized terrain of the mammalian brain, and is far more detailed than classical atlases based on gross anatomy. It reveals hidden structure and organization within the mouse brain itself, and, according to the authors, should serve as a baseline with which gene expression in other tissues, species and disease states could be compared.
Ed Lein (Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, WA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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