The advent of open access to genomic data offers new opportunities to revisit old clinical debates while approaching them from a different angle. We examine anew the question of whether psychiatric and neurological disorders are different from each other by assessing the pool of genes associated with disorders that are understood as psychiatric or as neurological. We do so in the context of transcriptome data tracked as human embryonic stem cells differentiate and become neurons. Building upon probabilistic layers of increasing complexity, we describe the dynamics and stochastic trajectories of the full transcriptome and the embedded genes associated with psychiatric and/or neurological disorders. From marginal distributions of a gene’s expression across hundreds of cells, to joint interactions taken globally to determine degree of pairwise dependency, to networks derived from probabilistic graphs along maximal spanning trees, we have discovered two fundamentally different classes of genes underlying these disorders and differentiating them. One class of genes boasts higher variability in expression and lower dependencies (High Expression Variability-HEV genes); the other has lower variability and higher dependencies (Low Expression Variability-LEV genes). They give rise to different network architectures and different transitional states. HEV genes have large hubs and a fragile topology, whereas LEV genes show more distributed code during the maturation toward neuronal state. LEV genes boost differentiation between psychiatric and neurological disorders also at the level of tissue across the brain, spinal cord, and glands. These genes, with their low variability and asynchronous ON/OFF states that have been treated as gross data and excluded from traditional analyses, are helping us settle this old argument at more than one level of inquiry.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Frontiers in Neuroscience|
|State||Published - Jun 2 2022|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- embryonic stem cells