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Deconvolution of human brain cell type transcriptomes unraveled microglia-specific potential biomarkers
Ayana R., Singh S.,
Published in Frontiers Media S.A.
Volume: 9
Issue: APR
Microglial cells form a context-dependent network of brain immunoeffector cells. Despite their indispensable roles, unresolved questions exist around biomarker discovery relevant to their cellular localization, self-renewing potential, and brain developmental dynamics. To resolve the existent gap in the annotation of candidate biomarkers, we conducted a meta-analysis of brain cells using available high-throughput data sets for deciphering microglia-specific expression profiles. We have identified 3,290 significant genes specific to microglia and further selected the top 20 dysregulated genes on the basis of p-value and log2FC. To this list, we added 7 known microglia-specific markers making the candidate list comprising 27 genes for further downstream analyses. Next, we established a connectome of these potential markers with their putative protein partners, which demonstrated strong associations of upregulated genes like Dedicator of cytokinesis 2 (DOCK2) with early/mature microglial markers such as Sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1), CD68, and CD45. To elucidate their respective brain anatomical location, we deconvoluted the BrainSpan Atlas expression data. This analysis showed high expression of the majority of candidate genes in microglia-dense regions (Amygdala, Hippocampus, Striatum) in the postnatal brain. Furthermore, to decipher their localized expression across brain ages, we constructed a developmental dynamics map (DDM) comprising extensive gene expression profiles throughout prenatal to postnatal stages, which resulted in the discovery of novel microglia-specific gene signatures. One of the interesting readout from DDM is that all the microglia-dense regions exhibit dynamic regulation of few genes at 37 post conception week (pcw), the transition period between pre- and postnatal stages. To validate these findings and correlate them as potential biomarkers, we analyzed the expression of corresponding proteins in hESC-derived human microglia precursors. The cultured microglial precursors showed expression of Pentraxin 3 (PTX3) and SPHK1 as well as several known markers like CD68, Allograft inflammatory factor 1 (AIF1/IBA1). In summary, this study has furnished critical insights into microglia dynamics across human brain ages and cataloged potential transcriptomic fingerprints that can be further exploited for designing novel neurotherapeutics. © 2018 Ayana, Singh and Pati.
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Published in Frontiers Media S.A.
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