Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Atlas Details Gene Activity of the Prenatal Human Brain

Published: Friday, April 04, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, April 04, 2014
Bookmark and Share
A comprehensive 3D atlas of the developing human brain that incorporates gene activity along with anatomical reference atlases and neuroimaging data has released its first major report in Nature.

This National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded resource, freely available to the public, enables researchers to answer questions related to the early roots of brain-based disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

This big science endeavor, which highlights the transcriptome — when and where genes are turned on in the brain — and anatomy of the human brain during mid-term pregnancy, was undertaken at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. It is the first installment of a consortium project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the NIH, called the BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain, which aims to profile gene activity throughout the course of brain development.

“Many neuropsychiatric diseases are likely the result of abnormal brain development during prenatal life,” said lead author Ed Lein, Ph.D., of the Allen Institute. “An anatomically precise molecular atlas of the brain during this time period is a first step to understanding how the human brain develops normally and what can go wrong.”

Although animal studies have provided invaluable insights in the basic mechanisms of brain function, there are limitations that make studies based on human tissues, which are very difficult to obtain, incredibly important. One key area is the neocortex, the outermost brain region involved in higher functions such as action and thought. The neocortex is smooth in rodents; in humans and non-human primates, it is much more complexly organized, elaborately folded into grooves and wrinkles called sulci and gyri.

Further differences in developmental compartments of this area exist between humans and non-human primates. The aim of this highly detailed atlas was to analyze all genes at this level of granularity, allowing meaningful analysis of the molecular underpinnings of human cortical development. Many psychiatric disorders show altered gene activity in the cortex, possibly highlighting changes that occurred during development of this region.

Lein and other researchers studied four donated, intact, high-quality human prenatal brains from preterm stillbirths — two from 15–16 weeks and two from 21 weeks post-conception – as a framework for their atlas. Contributing labs provided data from a variety of genomic and imaging techniques.

The BrainSpan Atlas aims to inspire new hypotheses regarding human brain development, and has already led to some surprising findings. For example, the study authors found significant differences between mouse and human brains in the subplate zone, a developmentally transient structure critical for proper cortical development. On the other hand, the researchers expected to find a unique molecular signature for the outer portion of the subventricular zone, an area which is not found in mice and which contains a hugely expanded pool of neuronal stem cells that give rise to our greatly expanded neocortex. Surprisingly, despite its much larger size, no significant differences were found between this zone and the inner portion of this layer that is conserved from mouse to human.

“The BrainSpan Atlas becomes very powerful when one can understand where and when a particular gene is used — for instance, is it active in precursor cells or in the neurons derived from them?” said Lein, who gave the example that autism candidate genes are expressed very early in in the cortex. Knowledge of the time and location of these genes may lead to future treatment targets and early interventions for this brain disorder, he added.

The BrainSpan Atlas already is making inroads in research surrounding human brain development and disease.

“Although the many genes associated with autism and schizophrenia don’t show a clear relationship to each other in the adult brain, the BrainSpan Atlas reveals how these diverse genes are connected in the developing brain,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “Findings of what goes on early in the prenatal brain can lead to the development of biomarkers for diagnosing brain disorders and for matching patients to treatment options most likely to be successful.

“This atlas is a clear example of the progress that can be made when the public and private sectors work together,” Insel said. “On this first anniversary of the BRAIN Initiative, we are encouraged to see the impact the BrainSpan Atlas is already making on brain research.”

The resource is freely available for viewing, searching, and data mining for gene activity patterns as part of the BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain Developing Human Brain  , and can also be found via the Allen Brain Atlas data portal Allen Brain Atlas data portal.  


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Inflammatory Disease Discovered
NIH researchers have discovered a rare and potentially deadly disease - otulipenia - the mostly affects children.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Public Support for National Study
Survey shows the majority of respondents support or show willingness for national precision medicine study.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Schizophrenia, Autism Share Genetic Causes
Monkey brain developmental atlas pinpoints when, where genes activate.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
How Breast Cancers Resist Chemotherapy
Researchers discovered an unexpected way that breast cancers cells with mutant BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes acquire drug resistance and evade chemotherapies.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Mutations Linked to Immunotherapy Resistance
Researchers uncover mutations in tumors of three patients with advanced melanoma that allowed the tumors to become resistant to the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda®).
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Genetic Cause of Rare Pediatric Neuropathy Identified
NIH mouse study identifies the mechanism responsible for a rare form of pediatric neuropathy.
Thursday, August 04, 2016
Depression Genetics Insight from Crowd-Sourced Data
Genome sites liked to depression have been discovered from data shared by people who had purchased their genetic profiles online.
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Uncovering a New Principle in Chemotherapy Resistance in Breast Cancer
The NIH study has revealed an entirely unexpected process for acquiring drug resistance that bypasses the need to re-establish DNA damage repair in breast cancers that have mutant BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
NIH Funds Million-Person Medicine Study
NIH announces $55million in awards to build foundations for ambitious Cohort Program that aims to engage 1 million participants in lifestyle, environments and genetics research.
Friday, July 08, 2016
Largest-Ever Study of Breast Cancer Genetics in Black Women
The study will identify genetic factors that may underlie breast cancer disparities.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Significant Expansion Of Data Available In The Genomic Data Commons
Cancer genomic profile information from 18,000 adult cancer patients will be added to the database.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Predicting Effective Drug Combinations For TB
Researchers analyzed gene regulatory networks to explain the effectiveness of an experimental drug combination against drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Genomic Data Commons Launched
Part of the National Cancer Moonshot, the GDC will centralize and standardize accessible data.
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Drug Might Help Treat Sepsis
A DNA enzyme called Top1 plays a key role in turning on genes that cause inflammation in mouse and human cells in response to pathogens. A drug blocking this enzyme rescued mice from lethal inflammatory responses, suggesting a potential treatment for sepsis.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
NIH Funds New Studies on Ethical, Legal and Social Impact of Genomic Information
Four new grants from the National Institutes of Health will support research on the ethical, legal and social questions raised by advances in genomics research and the increasing availability of genomic information.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Scientific News
Gene Therapy Via Ultrasound
Research into a gene therapy approach called sonoporation could help combat heart disease and cancer.
Creating Embryos with 'Heteroplasmy'
New discovery in genetic research could lead to treatments for mitochondrial diseases.
Proteins Preserve Vital Genetic Data
Research has shown how two key proteins bring about the oragnization of chromosomes and our genome.
Novel MRI Technique Distinguishes Healthy Prostate Tissue from Cancer
The UTSW researchers have determined that glucose stimulates release of the zinc ions from inside epithelial cells, which they could then track on MRIs.
Eye Colour Determines Cancer Risk
Researchers report first findings of a link between eye pigment gene and uveal melanoma development.
Telomere Replenishment in Real Time
Researchers have visualised the process of telomere attachment to chromosomes through single-molecule imaging.
Converting Isolated Cells with Gene Editing
Researchers have used CRISPR to generate neuronal cells from isolated connective tissue.
New Inflammatory Disease Discovered
NIH researchers have discovered a rare and potentially deadly disease - otulipenia - the mostly affects children.
Gene Linked to Hearing Loss Identified
Researchers have identifed a gene associated with age-related hearing loss.
Oxygen Content Contributes to Cancer
Research project concludes lack of oxygen in tumour cells changes cell gene expression, contributing to the growth of cancer.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!