Molecular taxonomy of major neuronal classes in the adult mouse forebrain
Identifying the neuronal cell types that comprise the mammalian forebrain is a central unsolved problem in neuroscience. Global gene expression profiles offer a potentially unbiased way to assess functional relationships between neurons. Here, we carried out microarray analysis of 12 populations of neurons in the adult mouse forebrain. Five of these populations were chosen from cingulate cortex and included several subtypes of GABAergic interneurons and pyramidal neurons. The remaining seven were derived from the somatosensory cortex, hippocampus, amygdala and thalamus. Using these expression profiles, we were able to construct a taxonomic tree that reflected the expected major relationships between these populations, such as the distinction between cortical interneurons and projection neurons. The taxonomic tree indicated highly heterogeneous gene expression even within a single region. This dataset should be useful for the classification of unknown neuronal subtypes, the investigation of specifically expressed genes and the genetic manipulation of specific neuronal circuit elements.