Unique transcriptome signature of mouse microglia

Glia. 2013 Sep;61(9):1429-42. doi: 10.1002/glia.22524. Epub 2013 Jul 8.


Microglial cells can be derived directly from the dissociated brain tissue by sorting procedures, from postnatal glial cultures by mechanic isolation or from pluripotent stem cells by differentiation. The detailed molecular phenotype of microglia from different sources is still unclear. Here, we performed a whole transcriptome analysis of flow cytometry-sorted microglia, primary postnatal cultured microglia, embryonic stem cell derived microglia (ESdM), and other cell types. Microglia and ESdM, both cultured in serum-free medium, were closely related to sorted microglia and showed a unique transcriptome profile, clearly distinct to other myeloid cell types, T cells, astrocytes, and neurons. ESdM and primary cultured microglia showed strong overlap in their transcriptome. Only 143 genes were differentially expressed between both cell types, mainly derived from immune-related genes with a higher activation status of proinflammatory and immune defense genes in primary microglia compared to ESdM. Flow cytometry analysis of cell surface markers CD54, CD74, and CD274 selected from the microarray confirmed the close phenotypic relation between ESdM and primary cultured microglia. Thus, assessment of genome-wide transcriptional regulation demonstrates that microglial cells are unique and clearly distinct from other macrophage cell types.

Keywords: embryonic stem cell-derived microglia; microglia; primary microglia culture; transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics
  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism
  • Brain / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computational Biology
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Microglia / classification
  • Microglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Receptors, Chemokine / genetics
  • Transcriptome / physiology*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1
  • Cx3cr1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins