Gene transcription profiles associated with inter-modular hubs and connection distance in human functional magnetic resonance imaging networks.


Human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain networks have a complex topology comprising integrative components, e.g. long-distance inter-modular edges, that are theoretically associated with higher biological cost. Here, we estimated intra-modular degree, inter-modular degree and connection distance for each of 285 cortical nodes in multi-echo fMRI data from 38 healthy adults. We used the multivariate technique of partial least squares (PLS) to reduce the dimensionality of the relationships between these three nodal network parameters and prior microarray data on regional expression of 20 737 genes. The first PLS component defined a transcriptional profile associated with high intra-modular degree and short connection distance, whereas the second PLS component was associated with high inter-modular degree and long connection distance. Nodes in superior and lateral cortex with high inter-modular degree and long connection distance had local transcriptional profiles enriched for oxidative metabolism and mitochondria, and for genes specific to supragranular layers of human cortex. In contrast, primary and secondary sensory cortical nodes in posterior cortex with high intra-modular degree and short connection distance had transcriptional profiles enriched for RNA translation and nuclear components. We conclude that, as predicted, topologically integrative hubs, mediating long-distance connections between modules, are more costly in terms of mitochondrial glucose metabolism.This article is part of the themed issue 'Interpreting BOLD: a dialogue between cognitive and cellular neuroscience'.