Nature Neuroscience recently published a breakthrough paper from Allen Institute for Brain Science and several collaborating institutions. The study was led by Michael Hawrylycz who is a mathematician by training (advisor: late famed Gian-Carlo Rota).
TITLE: An anatomic gene expression atlas of the adult mouse brain
ABSTRACT: Studying gene expression provides a powerful means of understanding structure-function relationships in the nervous system. The availability of genome-scale in situ hybridization datasets enables new possibilities for understanding brain organization based on gene expression patterns. The Anatomic Gene Expression Atlas (AGEA) is a new relational atlas revealing the genetic architecture of the adult C57Bl/6J mouse brain based on spatial correlations across expression data for thousands of genes in the Allen Brain Atlas (ABA). The AGEA includes three discovery tools for examining neuroanatomical relationships and boundaries: (1) three dimensional expression-based correlation maps, (2) a hierarchical transcriptome-based parcellation of the brain and (3) a facility to retrieve from the ABA specific genes showing enriched expression in local correlated domains. The utility of this atlas is illustrated by analysis of genetic organization in the thalamus, striatum and cerebral cortex. The AGEA is a publicly accessible online computational tool integrated with the ABA (http://mouse.brain-map.org/agea).
The paper brings structure-function together at previously unprecendented scale of 200 micron x 200 micron x 200 micron grid cells.