Full-length transcript sequencing of human and mouse cerebral cortex identifies widespread isoform diversity and alternative splicing

Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 16;37(7):110022. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110022.


Alternative splicing is a post-transcriptional regulatory mechanism producing distinct mRNA molecules from a single pre-mRNA with a prominent role in the development and function of the central nervous system. We used long-read isoform sequencing to generate full-length transcript sequences in the human and mouse cortex. We identify novel transcripts not present in existing genome annotations, including transcripts mapping to putative novel (unannotated) genes and fusion transcripts incorporating exons from multiple genes. Global patterns of transcript diversity are similar between human and mouse cortex, although certain genes are characterized by striking differences between species. We also identify developmental changes in alternative splicing, with differential transcript usage between human fetal and adult cortex. Our data confirm the importance of alternative splicing in the cortex, dramatically increasing transcriptional diversity and representing an important mechanism underpinning gene regulation in the brain. We provide transcript-level data for human and mouse cortex as a resource to the scientific community.

Keywords: isoform, transcript, expression, brain, cortex, mouse, human, adult, fetal, long-read sequencing, alternative splicing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Exons / genetics
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Genome
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics*
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA Precursors / genetics
  • RNA Splice Sites / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods
  • Transcriptome / genetics*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA Splice Sites
  • RNA, Messenger