Neuropeptide and calcium-binding protein gene expression profiles predict neuronal anatomical type in the juvenile rat
Neocortical neurones can be classified according to several independent criteria: morphological, physiological, and molecular expression (neuropeptides (NPs) and/or calcium-binding proteins (CaBPs)). While it has been suggested that particular NPs and CaBPs characterize certain anatomical subtypes of neurones, there is also considerable overlap in their expression, and little is known about simultaneous expression of multiple NPs and CaBPs in morphologically characterized neocortical neurones. Here we determined the gene expression profiles of calbindin (CB), parvalbumin (PV), calretinin (CR), neuropeptide Y (NPY), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), somatostatin (SOM) and cholecystokinin (CCK) in 268 morphologically identified neurones located in layers 2-6 in the juvenile rat somatosensory neocortex. We used patch-clamp electrodes to label neurones with biocytin and harvest the cytoplasm to perform single-cell RT-multiplex PCR. Quality threshold clustering, an unsupervised algorithm that clustered neurones according to their entire profile of expressed genes, revealed seven distinct clusters. Surprisingly, each cluster preferentially contained one anatomical class. Artificial neural networks using softmax regression predicted anatomical types at nearly optimal statistical levels. Classification tree-splitting (CART), a simple binary neuropeptide decision tree algorithm, revealed the manner in which expression of the multiple mRNAs relates to different anatomical classes. Pruning the CART tree revealed the key predictors of anatomical class (in order of importance: SOM, PV, VIP, and NPY). We reveal here, for the first time, a strong relationship between specific combinations of NP and CaBP gene expressions and the anatomical class of neocortical neurones.