Brain transcriptome databases: a user’s guide

Transcriptional programs instruct the generation and maintenance of diverse subtypes of neural cells, establishment of distinct brain regions, formation and function of neural circuits, and ultimately behavior. Spatiotemporal and cell type-specific analyses of the transcriptome, the sum total of all RNA transcripts in a cell or an organ, can provide insights into the role of genes in brain development and function, and their potential contribution to disorders of the brain. In the previous decade, advances in sequencing technology and funding from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations for large-scale genomics projects have led to a growing collection of brain transcriptome databases. These valuable resources provide rich and high-quality datasets with spatiotemporal, cell type-specific, and single-cell precision. Most importantly, many of these databases are publicly available via user-friendly web interface, making the information accessible to individual scientists without the need for advanced computational expertise. Here, we highlight key publicly available brain transcriptome databases, summarize the tissue sources and methods used to generate the data, and discuss their utility for neuroscience research.

Keywords: RNA-seq; database; transcriptome.