Cytoarchitecture linked to gene expression to study multilevel human brain organization

Decoding the chain from genes to cognition requires detailed insights how areas with specific gene activities and microanatomical architectures contribute to brain function and dysfunction. The Allen Human Brain Atlas contains regional gene expression data, while the Julich-Brain Atlas offers three-dimensional cytoarchitectonic maps reflecting interindividual variability. To date, an integrated framework that combines the analytical benefits of both scientific platforms towards a multi-level brain atlas of adult humans was not available. We have therefore developed JuGEx, a new method for integrating tissue transcriptome and cytoarchitectonic segregation.

Animated visualization of a JuGEx result in a 3D reference space showing the localization of investigated tissue samples and regional expression differences of a candidate gene in the medial compared to the lateral frontal pole (enlarge video player to see further details).

JuGEx is an integrated framework of the AllenBrain and Julich-Brain atlases for statistical analysis of differential gene expression in the adult human brain.

Up to now, an integrated framework for combined analyses towards a multi-level human brain atlas has not been developed so far. To achieve this, we have developed JuGEx (Julich-Brain Gene Expression), a user-friendly workflow based on graphical user interfaces that enables multiple ways of analyses of differential gene expression and cytoarchitectonic data. The added value of our method is that different levels of information on brain architecture, e.g. structural and functional connectivity, brain activations, and neurotransmitter receptor density, can now be supplemented by transcriptional information to enlight biological aspects of brain organization and its diseases, spatially referring to the cytoarchitectonic Julich-Brain atlas. This allows analysis beyond approaches which rely on the traditional segregation of the brain into sulci and gyri, thereby lumping together functionally different microstructural areas. JuGex is publicly available to empower research from basic, cognitive and clinical neuroscience in further brain regions and disease models with regard to gene expression.


This research was supported by the European Union Seventh Framework program (FP7/2007-2013) Grant 604102 (Human Brain Project) to K.A. and S.C.


Dr. rer. medic. Sebastian BludauGebäude 15.9 / Raum 3030+49 2461/61-1966
Dr. Thomas MühleisenGebäude 15.9 / Raum 4012+49 2461/61-5307


Code availability

The workflow and GUIs of JuGex are based on a script distribution coded in Matlab (version R2015b, 64bit). JuGEx - download

Letzte Änderung: 03.11.2022