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Searching the Prenatal Laser Microdissection (LMD) Microarray data

Three search types are available: (1) #Gene Search, to obtain gene expression data for specific genes of interest, (2) #Differential Search, to compare expression between two sets of brains structures, and (3) #Correlative Search, to find genes that have an expression pattern similar to a "seed gene" selected from the results of a Gene or a Differential search.

Clicking on the "?" button from any search type will take you to the appropriate help section.

Gene Search

To search for probes associated with a specific gene, select the Gene Search radio button, type the gene name, gene symbol, Entrez Gene ID or probe name in the search box and click the "Search" button. Alternatively, select a category from the tag cloud. The font size of the words in the cloud correspond to the number of genes linked to each category. Genes were linked to each category using online tools such as the PANTHER.

To restrict the set of probes displayed, check the boxes next to the Gene Symbols and click the View Selection Heatmap button at the bottom of the page (see heat map figure below).

Differential Search

Another common usage of gene expression databases is to find genes that show enrichment of expression in one region compared to another region. This type of query is supported by the Differential Search mode. Select the "Differential Search" radio button. To find genes or probes with an enhanced gene expression profile in one or more structures when compared to one or more other structures, enter the target brain structure in the top search box and your contrast regions in the bottom search box and click on the Search button.

To enter the structures, you can simply type the acronyms (separated by semi-colons) in the search boxes, or select them from the drop down ontology viewer.

Your search will return differentially expressed genes displayed only for the brain regions selected. The results will show genes exhibiting higher expression in the target domain compared to the contrast domain. (To view the expression patterns of the returned probes throughout the entire brain, turn off the "Restrict Domains" function below the heat map.) Search results are sorted either by p-value or fold change, indicated by the arrow on the buttons over the column of genes. To alter the sort parameter, click on either the "p value" or the "fold-change" buttons.

To perform the previous search in reverse, click the toggle button to the left of the Search button.

Correlative Search

In using gene expression databases, a "search by example" feature is also highly desirable as genes with similar expression patterns may be related in function. The Find Correlates search utility will accomplish this function. This search by example facility is also available in the Allen Human Brain Atlas, and in the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas and the Allen Developing Mouse Brain Atlas as the NeuroBlast function.

Once you have identified a gene of interest, to find other genes with spatial expression profiles similar to your gene of interest, first select your probe by clicking on any cell in the heat map related to that probe. You will see that probe listed in the box above the right hand side of the heat map. Then select the brain structure(s) in which you would like to see a similar expression pattern, and click "Find Correlates". This action will return probes with a similar expression profile in the brain region(s) in which you are interested.

Only regions selected for the search will be displayed. To see the search results across the entire brain, turn off the "Restrict Domains" function at the bottom of the heat map. You can see "anti-correlated" genes by toggling the sort order on column "r" or scrolling to the bottom of the heat map.

Data Visualization

The visualization page for the prenatal LMD microarray data is divided into two sections:

The bottom section contains the heat map representation of the data returned by a search operation.
The top section contains probe, sample and expression information for a data point selected by clicking a location in the heat map.

Heat Maps

Based on your search, the resulting microarray data sets are presented as a matrix with brain structure on the horizontal x-axis and gene probes on the vertical y-axis. On the horizontal axis, brain structures are organized in ontological order. On the vertical axis, each row represents a probe rather than a gene, since multiple probes were used to measure gene expression for a gene.

The microarray data is presented in a heat map format where the colors of the heat map correspond either to raw data or to a normalized (z-score) expression level of a probe. Default heat map colors are in the green - red scale, where green represents low expression values and red, high expression values. The window and level for the colors may be adjusted, and other color schemes may be selected by using the Color Map control under the heat map.

You can select a set of probes for later use by selecting the check-boxes beside the list of gene symbols. Your choices are stored in a browser cookie in your computer and will remain in effect until you click the "Clear Selections" button or clear your Web browser's cookie cache. Click the "View Selections" button to see your selections.

Detailed information section

Clicking on a cell of the heat map populates the top section of the page with detailed information about the selected cell. This information includes our structure ontology which when you click the blue link at the bottom will take you to the Reference Atlas . It also includes Gene Information; gene symbol, gene name, probe name (when the gene or probe links are clicked you will be taken to a #Gene Details page), expression values (log2 intensity and z-score), and the donor details.

The section also contains buttons to navigate to related data in other Allen Brain Atlas resources, as well as links to external pages with additional data on the specific gene and probe.

Gene Details

Clicking on the Gene Symbol or Gene Name takes you to the gene details page.

The gene details page displays information about the gene in three sections. The first section has metadata specifically about the gene, including Gene Name, Aliases, Organism, related data from other Allen Brain Atlas resources, Entrez gene ID and Chromosome.

The second sections outlines information specific for the probe selected from the heatmap, including Probe Name, NCBI Accession Number, Probe length, Sequence Data, probe type, transcript GI identifier and GC percentage.

The third section is a structural representation of the gene expression in the brain.

Probe Details

Clicking on the Probe Name will take you to the microarray probe details page.

The microarray probe detail page displays information about the probe including Probe Name, Gene Name, Gene Symbol, Entrez Gene ID, NCBI transcript accession number, Sequence Length and Predicted Sequence.

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