Melbourne Brain Genome Project

Seong-Seng Tan1, Lavinia Hyde2, Masters C, Gunnersen J, Kenshole B, Job C, Augustine C, Boon W-M, Brown M, Scott HS, Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Medicine and Physiology;, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

With its ability to measure global gene expression, the technique Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) is ideal for use in studying a complex system such as the brain. The brain displays unparalleled sophistication of function, and presents unique challenges to the study of how gene expression is manifested in specialized cell form and function. Understanding the spatial and temporal expression patterns of individual genes and how these patterns relate to those of other genes is of enormous interest. To exploit genome-scale approaches, we have established a collaborative project between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine and the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne, entitled ?The Melbourne Brain Genome Project? (MBGP). This project incorporates the use of SAGE to study patterns of gene expression in the developing and mature mouse brain, mouse models of mental retardation (e.g. Down syndrome or trisomy 21) and common neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, and motor neuron disease. Already over 15 SAGE libraries (including three LongSAGE libraries) have been generated resulting in over 700,000 tags. Comparison of SAGE libraries has highlighted tags that are significantly differentially expressed and important in, or can act as markers for, either the developmental or disease process being studied. Use of the statistical method correspondence analysis has highlighted genes specific to certain libraries, for example genes specific to embryonic stem cells and neurospheres. We have developed new tools for analysing SAGE data to take advantage of the availability of genomic sequence and to help integrate the increasing number of biological databases. These tools and all data generated by the MBGP are freely available to the research community via a website at