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A Single-Cell Atlas of Cell Types, States, and Other Transcriptional Patterns from Nine Regions of the Adult Mouse Brain

By Arpiar Saunders, Evan Z. Macosko, Alec Wysoker, Melissa Goldman, Fenna Krienen, Heather de Rivera, Elizabeth Bien, Matthew Baum, Shuyu Wang, Aleks Goeva, James Nemesh, Nolan Kamitaki, Sara Brumbaugh, David Kulp, Steven A McCarroll

Posted 10 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/299081 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.07.028)

The mammalian brain is composed of diverse, specialized cell populations, few of which we fully understand. To more systematically ascertain and learn from cellular specializations in the brain, we used Drop-seq to perform single-cell RNA sequencing of 690,000 cells sampled from nine regions of the adult mouse brain: frontal and posterior cortex (156,000 and 99,000 cells, respectively), hippocampus (113,000), thalamus (89,000), cerebellum (26,000), and all of the basal ganglia - the striatum (77,000), globus pallidus externus/nucleus basalis (66,000), entopeduncular/subthalamic nuclei (19,000), and the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (44,000). We developed computational approaches to distinguish biological from technical signals in single-cell data, then identified 565 transcriptionally distinct groups of cells, which we annotate and present through interactive online software we developed for visualizing and re-analyzing these data (DropViz). Comparison of cell classes and types across regions revealed features of brain organization. These included a neuronal gene-expression module for synthesizing axonal and presynaptic components; widely shared patterns in the combinatorial co-deployment of voltage-gated ion channels by diverse neuronal populations; functional distinctions among cells of the brain vasculature; and specialization of glutamatergic neurons across cortical regions to a degree not observed in other neuronal or non-neuronal populations. We describe systematic neuronal classifications for two complex, understudied regions of the basal ganglia, the globus pallidus externus and substantia nigra reticulata. In the striatum, where neuron types have been intensely researched, our data reveal a previously undescribed population of striatal spiny projection neurons (SPNs) comprising 4% of SPNs. The adult mouse brain cell atlas can serve as a reference for analyses of development, disease, and evolution.

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