Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder that manifests through progressive muscle weakness. Neurons in the brain and spinal cord undergo molecular changes that cause them to break down, reducing their functionality in the muscles they signal to.
To characterize the molecular changes that drive ALS progression, and to understand the spatial dynamics of the disease as it spreads within the body, Silas Maniatis and colleagues from the New York Genome Center examined spatial gene expression in postmortem tissue of ALS patients and a murine model of the disease (1). They characterized significant molecular events in disease progression, including microglial activation, autophagy, and reactive gliosis, as well as gene regulation changes. Using this unbiased approach, they were able to quantify 11,138 genes in mouse and 9,624 genes in human spinal cord sections, identifying altered gene expression of several known ALS genes, as well as novel genes that may be involved in ALS pathology.
Their work demonstrates the potential of spatial gene expression technology to unravel the dynamic cellular and molecular changes involved in disease progression, and particularly for those diseases that have a tissue-resident impact. Other neurodegenerative disorders, cancer evolution and metastasis—such are the prospective Goliaths that spatial gene expression solutions propose to tackle.
To learn more about the research that Silas Maniatis and his colleagues at the New York Genome Center conducted using spatial gene expression solutions, please join him and fellow neuroscientists and immunologists at the Cell Symposia: Neuro-Immune Axis, a conference in Long Beach, CA, beginning on Sunday, September 22, and going through Tuesday, September 24. Find out more here.
Or, tune in to a webinar hosted by GenomeWeb and 10x Genomics on October 8, 2019, as Dr. Maniatis presents his talk, "Integration of Single Cell and Spatially Resolved Methods for Understanding Neurodegeneration in ALS." Click here to register for the webinar.
And learn more about the capabilities of the upcoming Visium Spatial Gene Expression Solution here.
- S. Maniatis, T. Äijö, S. Vickovic, C. Braine, K. Kang et al. Spatiotemporal dynamics of molecular pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Science. 364, 89–93 (2019).