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Annotation

Johnson MB, Kawasawa YI, Mason CE, Krsnik Z, Coppola G, Bogdanovic D, Geschwind DH, Mane SM, State MW, Sestan N. Functional and evolutionary insights into human brain development through global transcriptome analysis. Neuron . 2009 May 28 ; 62(4):494-509. PubMed Abstract

Comments on Paper and Primary News
Primary News: Gene Expression Study May Open Window on Brain Development

Comment by:  Barbara Lipska
Submitted 15 June 2009 Posted 15 June 2009

In this very important and innovative study, Sestan and colleagues report a transcriptome-wide survey across multiple brain regions of the fetal mid-gestation brain. They show dramatic differences in expressed transcripts, including alternative splice variants, between brain regions, and most surprisingly, between several cortical regions. The authors have undertaken an ambitious task of further characterizing differentially expressed genes by functional clustering and co-expression clustering and comparing the results with genes identified through neurobiological experiments. They have also performed extensive validation using several additional fetal brains. Most interestingly, the authors showed that differentially expressed genes are more frequently associated with human-specific evolution of putative cis-regulatory elements. For this, they have identified genes that are near highly conserved non-coding sequences (CNSs) and found that the genes that are differentially expressed between the regions are more frequently near human-specific accelerated evolution CNSs.

The...  Read more


View all comments by Barbara Lipska

Primary News: Gene Expression Study May Open Window on Brain Development

Comment by:  Karoly Mirnics, SRF Advisor
Submitted 15 June 2009 Posted 15 June 2009

This outstanding study reinforces how much we still do not understand about human brain development and function! It is just mind-boggling that the mid-fetal human brain expresses more than three quarters of the human genome, and that region-specific splicing appears to be an absolutely critical feature of the developing brain. Interestingly, the structural and functional interhemispheric differences do not appear to be related to gene expression differences in mid-fetal life, but rather, either they develop independently of gene expression patterns, or they are developing at later stages of cortical maturation, perhaps in a postnatal activity-driven pattern.

So, how is this developmental expression machinery related to various neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia? Is usage of an "inappropriate" splice variant sufficient to alter the neuronal phenotypic development to a degree that would predispose the brain to developing a disease? Are environmental insults capable of disrupting this finely tuned, region-specific splicing machinery? As this is a likely...  Read more


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