The adult mammalian brain is composed of distinct regions with specialized roles including regulation of circadian clocks, feeding, sleep/awake, and seasonal rhythms. To find quantitative differences of expression among such various brain regions, we conducted the BrainStars (B*) project, in which we profiled the genome-wide expression of ~50 small brain regions, including sensory centers, and centers for motion, time, memory, fear, and feeding. To avoid confounds from temporal differences in gene expression, we sampled each region every 4 hours for 24 hours, and pooled the samples for DNA-microarray assays. Therefore, we focused on spatial differences in gene expression. We used informatics to identify candidate genes with expression changes showing high or low expression in specific regions. We also identified candidate genes with stable expression across brain regions that can be used as new internal control genes, and ligand-receptor interactions of neurohormones and neurotransmitters. Through these analyses, we found 8,159 multi-state genes, 2,212 regional marker gene candidates for 44 small brain regions, 915 internal control gene candidates, and 23,864 inferred ligand-receptor interactions. We also found that these sets include well-known genes as well as novel candidate genes that might be related to specific functions in brain regions. We used our findings to develop an integrated database (http://brainstars.org/) for exploring genome-wide expression in the adult mouse brain, and have made this database openly accessible. These new resources will help accelerate the functional analysis of the mammalian brain and the elucidation of its regulatory network systems.
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