An important goal in neuroscience is to understand gene expression patterns in the brain. The recent availability of comprehensive and detailed expression atlases for mouse and human creates opportunities to discover global patterns and perform cross-species comparisons. Recently we reported that the major source of variation in gene transcript expression in the adult normal mouse brain can be parsimoniously explained as reflecting regional variation in glia to neuron ratios, and is correlated with degree of connectivity and location in the brain along the anterior-posterior axis. Here we extend this investigation to two gene expression assays of adult normal human brains that consisted of over 300 brain region samples, and perform comparative analyses of brain-wide expression patterns to the mouse. We performed principal components analysis (PCA) on the regional gene expression of the adult human brain to identify the expression pattern that has the largest variance. As in the mouse, we observed that the first principal component is composed of two anti-correlated patterns enriched in oligodendrocyte and neuron markers respectively. However, we also observed interesting discordant patterns between the two species. For example, a few mouse neuron markers show expression patterns that are more correlated with the human oligodendrocyte-enriched pattern and vice-versa. In conclusion, our work provides insights into human brain function and evolution by probing global relationships between regional cell type marker expression patterns in the human and mouse brain.
Keywords: cell type; evolution; gene expression pattern; glia; neuron; transcriptome.