Molecular heterogeneity of midbrain dopaminergic neurons - Moving toward single cell resolution

Angela Anderegg, Jean Francois Poulin, Rajeshwar Awatramani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Since their discovery, midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons have been researched extensively, in part because of their diverse functions and involvement in various neuropsychiatric disorders. Over the last few decades, reports have emerged that midbrain DA neurons were not a homogeneous group, but that DA neurons located in distinct anatomical locations within the midbrain had distinctive properties in terms of physiology, function, and vulnerability. Accordingly, several studies focused on identifying heterogeneous gene expression across DA neuron clusters. Here we review the importance of understanding DA neuron heterogeneity at the molecular level, previous studies detailing heterogeneous gene expression in DA neurons, and finally recent work which brings together previous heterogeneous gene expression profiles in a coordinated manner, at single cell resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3714-3726
Number of pages13
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 21 2015


  • Dopamine neuron subtypes
  • Midbrain
  • Molecular diversity
  • Selective vulnerability
  • Single cell expression profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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