A Comprehensive Analysis of Cell Type-Specific Nuclear RNA From Neurons and Glia of the Brain

Biol Psychiatry. 2017 Feb 1;81(3):252-264. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.02.021. Epub 2016 Feb 24.


Background: Studies in psychiatric genetics have identified >100 loci associated with disease risk, yet many of these loci are distant from protein coding genes. Recent characterization of the transcriptional landscape of cell lines and whole tissues has suggested widespread transcription in both coding and noncoding regions of the genome, including differential expression from loci that produce regulatory noncoding RNAs that function within the nucleus; however, the nuclear transcriptome of specific cell types in the brain has not been previously investigated.

Methods: We defined the nuclear transcriptional landscape of the three major cellular divisions of the nervous system using flow sorting of genetically labeled nuclei from bacTRAP mouse lines. Next, we characterized the unique expression of coding, noncoding, and intergenic RNAs in the mature mouse brain with RNA-Seq and validation with independent methods.

Results: We found diverse expression across the cell types of all classes of RNAs, including long noncoding RNAs, several of which were confirmed as highly enriched in the nuclei of specific cell types using anatomic methods. We also discovered several examples of cell type-specific expression of tandem gene fusions, and we report the first cell type-specific expression of circular RNAs-a neuron-specific and nuclear-enriched RNA arising from the gene Hnrnpu.

Conclusions: These data provide an important resource for studies evaluating the function of various noncoding RNAs in the brain, including noncoding RNAs that may play a role in psychiatric disease.

Keywords: Circular RNA; Hnrnpu; Mirg1; Nuclear; lincRNA; ncRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein U / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / metabolism
  • RNA, Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcriptome*


  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein U
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Nuclear