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PLoS Comput Biol. 2013;9(9):e1003185. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003185. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

Specialization of gene expression during mouse brain development.

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Gonda Multidisiplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.


The transcriptome of the brain changes during development, reflecting processes that determine functional specialization of brain regions. We analyzed gene expression, measured using in situ hybridization across the full developing mouse brain, to quantify functional specialization of brain regions. Surprisingly, we found that during the time that the brain becomes anatomically regionalized in early development, transcription specialization actually decreases reaching a low, "neurotypic", point around birth. This decrease of specialization is brain-wide, and mainly due to biological processes involved in constructing brain circuitry. Regional specialization rises again during post-natal development. This effect is largely due to specialization of plasticity and neural activity processes. Post-natal specialization is particularly significant in the cerebellum, whose expression signature becomes increasingly different from other brain regions. When comparing mouse and human expression patterns, the cerebellar post-natal specialization is also observed in human, but the regionalization of expression in the human Thalamus and Cortex follows a strikingly different profile than in mouse.

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