In the handling and care of animals, the International Guiding Principles for Animals Research, as adopted by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), National University of Singapore, were followed. All efforts were made to minimize pain and the number of rats used.
Laser-capture microdissection (LCM)
Whole fresh brains were removed from 5-day postnatal Wistar rat pups (n = 3) and 4-week old Wistar rats (n = 3) and placed in liquid nitrogen immediately for a short time and then frozen in a cryostat (Model No. CM 3050 S, Leica Microsystems GmbH, Wetzlar, Germany). The forebrain was sectioned coronally through the CC at 5 μm thickness and mounted on precleaned slides. The sections were fixed in 75% ethanol for 1 min and incubated with peroxidase conjugated isolectin (1: 50, Cat. No. L5391, Sigma-Aldrich Co., MO,USA) for 15 min. The sections were then dehydrated by a graded series of ethanol and cleaned in xylene. The slide was placed on the microscope stage of MMI CellCut (Molecular Machines & Industries, Glattbrugg, Switzerland). The 4 X, 10 X to 40 X objective lenses were used to achieve the proper placement of the cap (for cell collection) above the CC. Lectin stained microglia cells (AMC from 5-day and RMC from 4-week old rat brain CC) were selected and cut by laser and collected into the cap of tube (Cat No. 50202, Molecular Machines &Industries, Glattbrugg, Switzerland). Extra care was taken to minimize the contamination of materials from other cell types while laser dissecting microglia from the CC.
Total RNA was extracted from 600 isolated microglia cells per group using RNeasy micro kit (Cat. No. 74004, Qiagen, CA, USA), quantified by Nanodrop 1000 (Thermo Scientific, MA, USA) and hybridized to each microarray chip. RNA (15 ng) was reverse transcripted into the first-strand cDNA using a T7-Oligo (dT) Primer (Two-Cycle Target Labeling and Control Reagent package, Affymetrix, CA, USA). After second-strand cDNA synthesis, the double-stranded cDNA was purified and served as a template in the first cycle of in vitro transcription (IVT) reaction. The unlabeled cRNA was then reverse transcripted into the first-strand cDNA of the second cycle using random primers. Subsequently, the T7-Oligo(dT) Promoter Primer was used in the second-strand cDNA synthesis to generate double-stranded cDNA template containing T7 promoter sequences. Then the double-stranded cDNA was amplified and labeled using a biotinylated nucleotide analog/ribonucleotide mix in the second IVT reaction. The labeled cRNA was then cleaned up, fragmented, and hybridized to Rat Genome 230 2.0 Array (Cat. No.900506, Affymetrix, CA, USA). A total of six arrays (three each for AMC and RMC) were carried out in the present study. The arrays were stained according to the manufacturer’s protocols and then scanned with the Genechip scanner (Affymetrix, CA, USA). Initial analysis of the scanned images was performed by GeneChip Operating Software (GCOS, Affymetrix, CA, USA). For absolute analysis, each chip was normalized to a target intensity of 500, and probe sets were assigned a signal intensity and detection call of Present, Marginal or Absent.
Data analysis and generation of gene lists
The absolute data (signal intensity, detection call and detection p-value) were exported into GeneSpring GX 7.3 software (Agilent Technologies, CA, USA). All the six chips were globally normalized and the genes of over 2-fold differential expression were filtered out and used for functional analysis.
Data normalization and generation of gene lists using MATLAB
Raw CEL files of the six chips were RMA (Robust Multichip Average) normalized using the Affymetrix Expression Console Version 1.1 (Affymetrix, CA, USA). The normalized data was then used to identify differentially expressed genes between AMC and RMC in MATLAB R2009a (MathWorks, MA, USA). For the statistical analysis, we used the ‘Exploring Gene Expression Data’ demo scripts in the Bioinformatics Toolbox™. The data was filtered for removing genes with low expression values and low variance across chips. Further, t-test was performed to retain genes with p-values less than 0.05 and a Volcano Plot was generated to identify the two-fold differentially expressed genes. The microarray data discussed in this publication is MIAME compliant and has been deposited in NCBIs Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/). It is accessible through GEO Series accession number GSE29885.
Gene expression profile clustering and pathway analysis
Agglomerative average-linkage hierarchical clustering of the different experimental groups was obtained for selected groups of genes with GeneSpring GX 7.3 software (Agilent Technologies, CA, USA) with standard correlation used as the similarity matrix. The gene lists obtained was fed into Pathway Studio 6 software (Ariadne, MD, USA) to generate pathways for identifying interactions between the genes for validation purposes.
Analysis of gene lists
The gene list generated from MATLAB was used to identify functional groups enriched in the AMC and RMC using DAVID Bioinformatics Database [25, 26]. To identify the ‘Stemness’ of AMC and RMC, we compared our gene lists to gene lists enriched in embryonic, neural and hematopoietic stem cells . Since the data were accumulated from a different microarray platform, we found orthologs to their genes pertaining to our platform using the online NetAffyx application (Affymetrix, CA, USA). For comparison of our gene expression data to that of peripheral blood monocytes , the raw CEL files of monocyte expression data were downloaded from NCBI GEO (Gene Expression Omnibus) and the orthologs pertaining to our platform were identified using the online NetAffyx application. These files were RMA normalized in Affymetrix Expression Console Version 1.1 (Affymetrix, CA, USA) and subsequently the average expression values of the monocyte genes were compared to our microglia gene lists.
Double immunofluorescence staining on postnatal rat brain sections
5-day and 4-week old Wistar rat pups were purchased from the Laboratory Animal Centre, National University of Singapore. The animals were perfused and fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde for further procedure. For double immunofluorescence staining, forebrain sections at 30μm were cut through the corpus callosum using cryostat (Model No. CM 3050 S, Leica Microsystems GmbH, Wetzlar, Germany). The sections were incubated with purified mouse anti-OX-42 Ig (1:50; Cat No. CBL1512, Millipore, MA,USA) along with rabbit anti-ETO (1:100; Cat No. sc-28693, Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. CA, USA) or with rabbit anti-Dcx (1:100, Cat No. ab18723, abcam, Cambridge, UK) or with rabbit anti-Sox4 (1:100; Cat No.sc-20090,Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. CA, USA) or with rabbit anti-Sox11 (1:100; Cat No.sc-20096 ,Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. CA, USA) or with rabbit anti-Sept9 (1:100; Cat No. sc-130263, Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. CA, USA) with rabbit anti-Sept4 (1:100; Cat No. sc-20179, Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. CA, USA) overnight at 4°C. On the following day, the sections were further incubated with either FITC-conjugated goat-anti-mouse IgG (1:100; Cat No. F9137, Sigma-Aldrich Co., MO, USA) or Cy3-conjugated sheep-anti-rabbit IgG secondary antibody (1:100; Cat No. C2306, Sigma-Aldrich Co., MO, USA). The sections were counterstained with DAPI (1 μg/ml, Cat. No. D1306, Invitrogen, CA, USA) and mounted with a fluorescent mounting medium (DakoCytomation, Glostrop, Denmark). Photo-images were captured using a confocal microscope (Olympus FV1000, Tokyo, Japan).
BV-2 cells (a widely used murine microglial cell line) were maintained at 75 cm2 culture flasks in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium (DMEM, Sigma, St. Louis, MO, USA; Cat. No. 1152) supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS, HyClone, Logan, UT) and cultured in 37°C in a humidified atmosphere of 5% CO2 and 95% air incubator. Cells were seeded on 6-well plates at about a density of 1.0 × 106 per well for RNA isolation.
RNA isolation and real-time RT-PCR for validation of microarray data
Total RNA from laser-captured AMC and RMC was extracted using miRNeasy Mini Kit (Qiagen, Germany, Cat. No.217004) and RNA from BV-2 cells was extracted with RNeasy Mini Kit (Qiagen, Germany, Cat. No. 75161) according to the manufacturer’s instructions and quantified spectrophotometrically. 2 μg of RNA from each sample was added to a total volume of 25 μl reaction mixture containing 2.5 μM of oligo (dT) primer (Promega, Madison, WI USA; Cat. No. C110A), and 200U of Molony Murine Leukemia Virus Reverse Transcriptase (M-MLV, Promega, Madison, WI, USA; Cat. No. M5314). The reaction was initiated by incubating the reaction mixture for 1 h at 42°C for reverse transcription, and stopped by heating for 10 min at 70°C. Aliquot (0.5 μl) of the each reverse transcription product was added to the 10 μl reaction mixture containing QuantiTectRSYBRR Green I, 0.5 μM of each primer corresponding to Runx1t1, Sept9, Sept4, Mbp (rat), Gapdh, Dcx, Mbp (mouse), or β-actin and 4 mM MgCl2 to amplify the genes in ABi 7900HT Fast PCR system (Applied Biosystems, USA). The primer sequences of Runx1t1 are forward: 5′-ACGAACAGCTGCTTCTGGAT-3′and reverse: 5′-TGCTTGGATGTTCTGAGTGC-3′, Sept 9 are forward: 5′-AACCATGTCCCTCGAACTTG-3′ and reverse: 5′-AAGAGAGAGGGGACACGACA-3′, Sept 4 are forward: 5′-CTCATCCGGGAGAAAGATGA-3′ and everse: 5′-GAGCTGATGCAGGGAAG-3′, Mbp are forward: 5′-TACTTGGCCACAGCAAGTACC-3′ and reverse: 5′-GGGTGTACGAGGTGTCACAAT-3′, Gapdh are forward: 5′-ACATGCCGCCTGGAGAAACCTGCCA-3′ and reverse: 5′-TGCCAGCCCCAGCATCAAAGGTGGA-3′. The primer sequences used for the data reported in the supplementary figure are listed in Additional file 1: Sheet S1. After pre-incubation at 95°C for 15 min, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed as follows: 45 cycles of denaturation at 94°C for 15 s, annealing at 57°C for 25 s, and elongation at 72°C for 15 s.