Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

NIH-Funded Atlas Details Gene Activity of the Prenatal Human Brain

Published: Friday, April 04, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, April 04, 2014
Bookmark and Share
NIH-funded resource offers clues to psychiatric disorders.

A comprehensive three-dimensional atlas of the developing human brain that incorporates gene activity along with anatomical reference atlases and neuroimaging data has released its first major report online 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 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 (http://brainspan.org), and can also be found via the Allen Brain Atlas data portal Allen Brain Atlas data portal (http://www.brain-map.org).


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 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,200+ 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

Visualizing a Cancer Drug Target at Atomic Resolution
Using cryo-electron microscopy, researchers were able to view, in atomic detail, the binding of a potential small molecule drug to a key protein in cancer cells.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tick Genome Reveals Secrets of a Successful Bloodsucker
NIH-funded study could lead to new tick control methods.
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Genomic Signature Shared by Five Types of Cancer
National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a striking signature in tumor DNA that occurs in five different types of cancer.
Monday, February 08, 2016
Natural Protein Points to New Inflammation Treatment
Findings may offer insight to effective treatments for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.
Friday, February 05, 2016
Cancer Drug Target Visualized at Atomic Resolution
New study using cryo-electron microscopy shows how potential drugs could inhibit cancer.
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Genome-Wide Study Yields Markers of Lithium Response
An international consortium of scientists has identified a stretch of chromosome that is associated with responsiveness to the mood-stabilizing medication lithium among patients with bipolar disorder.
Monday, February 01, 2016
Schizophrenia’s Strongest Known Genetic Risk Deconstructed
Suspect gene may trigger runaway synaptic pruning during adolescence – NIH-funded study.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Experimental Combination Surprises with Anti-HIV Effectiveness
A compound developed to protect the nervous system from HIV surprised researchers by augmenting the effectiveness of an investigational antiretroviral drug beyond anything expected.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Dengue Vaccine Enters Phase 3 Trial
Investigational vaccine to prevent ‘breakbone fever’ developed at NIH.
Friday, January 15, 2016
NIH Genome Sequencing Program Targets the Genomic Bases of Common, Rare Disease
The National Institutes of Health will fund a set of genome sequencing and analysis centers whose research will focus on understanding the genomic bases of common and rare human diseases.
Friday, January 15, 2016
Trying to Conceive Soon After a Pregnancy Loss May Increase Chances of Live Birth
NIH study finds no reason for delaying pregnancy attempts after a loss without complications.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Three Glaucoma-Related Genes Discovered
NIH-funded genetics analysis of glaucoma is largest to date.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
NIH-funded Memory Drug Moves into Phase 1 Clinical Study
Collaboration between NIH and Tetra Discovery Partners leads to development of treatment that may affect cognition.
Monday, January 04, 2016
International Study Reveals New Genetic Clues to AMD
NIH-funded research provides framework for future studies of AMD biology, therapy.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
NIH Unveils FY2016–2020 Strategic Plan
Detailed plan sets course for advancing scientific discoveries and human health.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Scientific News
Breaking Cell Barriers with Retractable Protein Nanoneedles
Adapting a bacterial structure, institute researchers have developed protein actuators that can mechanically puncture cells.
Gene Signature could Lead to a New Way of Diagnosing Lyme Disease
Lyme disease patients had distinctive gene signatures that persisted for at least three weeks, even after they had taken the antibiotics.
Retractable Protein Nanoneedles
The ability to control the transfer of molecules through cellular membranes is an important function in synthetic biology; a new study from researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Medical School (HMS) introduces a novel mechanical method for controlling release of molecules inside cells.
Leukemia’s Surroundings Key to its Growth
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a type of cancer found primarily in children can grow only when signaled to do so by other nearby cells that are noncancerous.
Common Cell Transformed into Master Heart Cell
By genetically reprogramming the most common type of cell in mammalian connective tissue, researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison have generated master heart cells — primitive progenitors that form the developing heart.
‘Smelling’ Prostate Cancer
A research team from the University of Liverpool and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has reached an important milestone towards creating a urine diagnostic test for prostate cancer that could mean that invasive diagnostic procedures that men currently undergo eventually become a thing of the past.
Genetic Mutation that Prevents Diabetes Complications
The most significant complications of diabetes include diabetic retinal disease, or retinopathy, and diabetic kidney disease, or nephropathy. Both involve damaged capillaries.
A Crystal Clear View of Biomolecules
Fundamental discovery triggers paradigm shift in crystallography.
Could the Food we Eat Affect Our Genes?
Almost all of our genes may be influenced by the food we eat, according to new research.
NIH Seeks Research Applications to Study Zika in Pregnancy, Developing Fetus
Institute has announced that the new effort seeks to understand virus effect on reproduction and child development.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!