Genes, behavior and next-generation RNA sequencing
Advances in next-generation sequencing suggest that RNA-Seq is poised to supplant microarray-based approaches for transcriptome analysis. This article briefly reviews the use of microarrays in the brain-behavior context and then illustrates why RNA-Seq is a superior strategy. Compared with microarrays, RNA-Seq has a greater dynamic range, detects both coding and noncoding RNAs, is superior for gene network construction, detects alternative spliced transcripts, detects allele specific expression and can be used to extract genotype information, e.g. nonsynonymous coding single nucleotide polymorphisms. Examples of where RNA-Seq has been used to assess brain gene expression are provided. Despite the advantages of RNA-Seq, some disadvantages remain. These include the high cost of RNA-Seq and the computational complexities associated with data analysis. RNA-Seq embraces the complexity of the transcriptome and provides a mechanism to understand the underlying regulatory code; the potential to inform the brain-behavior relationship is substantial.