Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Gene expression in the rat brain: High similarity but unique differences between frontomedial-, temporal- and occipital cortex

Christine Stansberg12*, Kari M Ersland12, Paul van der Valk3 and Vidar M Steen12

Author Affiliations

1 Dr E. Martens Research Group for Biological Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Norway

2 Center for Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

3 Department of Pathology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-15

Published: 26 January 2011



The six-layered neocortex of the mammalian brain may appear largely homologous, but is in reality a modular structure of anatomically and functionally distinct areas. However, global gene expression seems to be almost identical across the cerebral cortex and only a few genes have so far been reported to show regional enrichment in specific cortical areas.


In the present study on adult rat brain, we have corroborated the strikingly similar gene expression among cortical areas. However, differential expression analysis has allowed for the identification of 30, 24 and 11 genes enriched in frontomedial -, temporal- or occipital cortex, respectively. A large proportion of these 65 genes appear to be involved in signal transduction, including the ion channel Fxyd6, the neuropeptide Grp and the nuclear receptor Rorb. We also find that the majority of these genes display increased expression levels around birth and show distinct preferences for certain cortical layers and cell types in rodents.


Since specific patterns of expression often are linked to equally specialised biological functions, we propose that these cortex sub-region enriched genes are important for proper functioning of the cortical regions in question.