Transcriptional programs in transient embryonic zones of the cerebral cortex defined by high-resolution mRNA sequencing

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 6;108(36):14950-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1112213108. Epub 2011 Aug 22.


Characterizing the genetic programs that specify development and evolution of the cerebral cortex is a central challenge in neuroscience. Stem cells in the transient embryonic ventricular and subventricular zones generate neurons that migrate across the intermediate zone to the overlying cortical plate, where they differentiate and form the neocortex. It is clear that not one but a multitude of molecular pathways are necessary to progress through each cellular milestone, yet the underlying transcriptional programs remain unknown. Here, we apply differential transcriptome analysis on microscopically isolated cell populations, to define five transcriptional programs that represent each transient embryonic zone and the progression between these zones. The five transcriptional programs contain largely uncharacterized genes in addition to transcripts necessary for stem cell maintenance, neurogenesis, migration, and differentiation. Additionally, we found intergenic transcriptionally active regions that possibly encode unique zone-specific transcripts. Finally, we present a high-resolution transcriptome map of transient zones in the embryonic mouse forebrain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Mice
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*


  • RNA, Messenger

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE30765