To understand the relationship between the structure and function of primate neocortical areas at a molecular level, we have been screening for genes differentially expressed across macaque neocortical areas by restriction landmark cDNA scanning (RLCS). Here, we report enriched expression of the paraneoplastic antigen-like 5 gene (PNMA5) in association areas but not in primary sensory areas, with the lowest expression level in primary visual cortex. In situ hybridization in the primary sensory areas revealed PNMA5 mRNA expression restricted to layer II. Along the ventral visual pathway, the expression gradually increased in the excitatory neurons from the primary to higher visual areas. This differential expression pattern was very similar to that of retinol-binding protein (RBP) mRNA, another association-area-enriched gene that we reported previously. Additional expression analysis for comparison of other genes in the PNMA gene family, PNMA1, PNMA2, PNMA3, and MOAP1 (PNMA4), showed that they were widely expressed across areas and layers but without the differentiated pattern of PNMA5. In mouse brains, PNMA1 was only faintly expressed and PNMA5 was not detected. Sequence analysis showed divergence of PNMA5 sequences among mammals. These findings suggest that PNMA5 acquired a certain specialized role in the association areas of the neocortex during primate evolution.

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