AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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High-Resolution Genomic Map Gives Scientists Unprecedented View of Brain Development

Detailed measurements of genes in individual brain cells allows scientists to trace specific developmental trajectories in the cerebellum

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have created a massive database of the changes in gene activity of individual cells in the cerebellum during embryonic development and immediately after birth. The analysis of thousands of brain cells isolated from mice offers researchers a high-resolution map that enables scientists to view the detailed genomic changes cells undergo as the cerebellum wires its neural circuitry.

The research will not only aid basic understanding of brain development, but also provide a foundation for understanding the cellular origins of brain disorders caused by errors in development. These anatomical defects include Joubert syndrome, Dandy-Walker malformation and pontocerebellar hypoplasia. The database will enable future studies tracing the cellular origins of childhood brain tumors such as medulloblastoma, astrocytoma and ependymoma.

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