Atlas maps distinct cell types during earliest stages of brain development

A new atlas profiles gene activity early in development in the human fetal brain.

The resource could help researchers identify the most appropriate models for studying autism at different stages of brain maturation. Gene expression in progenitor cells, which develop into neurons, closely matches that of human brain organoids — lab-grown renditions of the real thing — early on, for example, but later aligns more with that of cells in mice, according to the study.

“It’s just a cautionary tale that you have to be careful about choosing your experimental model,” says lead investigator Arnold Kriegstein, professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

In people, progenitor cells called radial glia generate neurons in what becomes the cerebral cortex during the first six months of fetal growth. But how these radial glia develop and mature has been unclear, partly due to a dearth of tissue samples from the first weeks of gestation.

In the new work, Kriegstein and his colleagues analyzed gene expression patterns in individual cells from 12 fetal brains ranging in age from 6 to 10 weeks post-conception. They looked at 289,000 cells across the brains, including 59,000 from the cortex and nearby structures.

Cortical progenitor cells fall into nine groups based on gene expression, the team found, indicating that these cells are more varied than was previously recognized. Even the youngest tissue samples contained some neurons, suggesting that the creation of cortical neurons begins early on.

<b>Neuron nursery</b>: Gene expression patterns reveal different cell types that mature into neurons.

Model model:

The autism-linked gene MEFC2, which helps neurons mature and assemble into the cortex’s characteristic layers, was highly expressed in the younger samples. In older tissue from previous studies, it peaked again around 14 weeks, suggesting it has multiple roles.

The researchers also built ‘family trees’ linking cells across different periods of development to better understand how progenitor cells differentiate. Many of the genes that appear to regulate this process are linked to autism and other neuropsychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, the researchers found.

The team compared their samples with gene expression patterns in 9- and 10-day old mouse embryos — about halfway through gestation — and with a set of brain organoids developed from four human stem-cell lines.

Two clusters of cells found in early developmental stages in people are not present in mice, the researchers found. The organoids do have these cells but lack others that are expressed later in both mice and people.

The findings were published in Nature Neuroscience in March.

The post Atlas maps distinct cell types during earliest stages of brain development appeared first on Spectrum | Autism Research News.

Order by: 
Per page:
  • There are no comments yet
Related Feed Entries
Autistic children are up to four times as likely as their non-autistic peers to have digestive problems, and several small studies show they may also have atypical microbial communities living in their guts. But whether those flora contribute to their autism traits remains unclear. The post The gut’…
11 hours ago · From Spectrum News
Roughly 1 in 5 people with autism will have an interaction with law enforcement before they’re 21. At... The post West Virginia Passes Law Requiring Law Enforcement to Undergo Autism Training appeared first on The Autism Site News. Source: The Autism Site
11 hours ago · From The Autism Site
Eva has already been through three years of preschool waiting for a space to open up at a special school or program, but no one will take her. The post Nonverbal Autistic Girl Has Been Turned Away from 20+ Schools, Now Faces a 4th Year of Preschool appeared first on The Autism Site News. Source: The…
11 hours ago · From The Autism Site
The number of therapists certified to provide applied behavior analysis (ABA), a widely used autism therapy, has skyrocketed in the past two decades, yet more than half of all counties in the United States have none, according to a new study. These counties are home to many autistic children, howev…
Yesterday · From Spectrum News
Ron Sandison interviews child musical prodigy Jacob Velazquez For those who missed Jacob Velazquez on America’s Got Talent here’s a video of his appearance: I had the opportunity to ask Jacob a few questions about his autism and his music. 1. How did PDD-NOS effect you as a child and at…
Yesterday · From The Art of Autism
0 votes
02.04.2021 (02.04.2021)
0 Subscribers