A study led by Ludwig San Diego’s Bing Ren, published in Nature in October—among a series of papers reporting brain census of human and mouse brains from the NIH Brain Initiative Cell Census Network—generated an atlas of gene regulatory elements in the mouse cerebrum, which performs high-level sensory perception, motor control and cognitive functions. Both the mouse and the human cerebrum contain hundreds of neural cell types found at specific locations, but relatively little was known about the gene expression programs that give each cell type its distinct traits. Bing and his team investigated the accessible chromatin in more than 800,000 cells from 45 distinct regions of the adult mouse brain. They used the data to map the state of 491,818 candidate cis-regulatory elements (cCREs), which are noncoding DNA sequences that regulate the transcription of genes, in 160 distinct cell types. They showed how both the location and function of distinct neurons in specific cortical regions correlate to the activity of unique sets of CREs. These data will support comprehensive analysis of gene expression programs in the mammalian brain and provide insight into how variations in non-coding DNA sequences contribute to many neurological diseases and traits.
This article appeared in the February 2022 issue of Ludwig Link. Click here to download a PDF (1 MB).