Early emergence of cortical interneuron diversity in the mouse embryo

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Science  06 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6384, pp. 81-85
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar6821

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Embryonic hints of adult diversity

The adult brain contains dozens of different types of interneurons that control and refine neuronal circuits. Mi et al. used single-cell transcriptomics to investigate when these subtypes emerge during interneuron development in the mouse. Transcriptomes of embryonic interneurons showed similarities to adult classes of differentiated interneurons, thus dividing the immature embryonic interneurons themselves into classes. Nearly a dozen classes of embryonic neurons could be identified soon after their last mitosis by transcriptomic similarity with known classes of adult cortical interneurons. Thus, the fate of embryonic interneurons can be read in their transcriptomes well before the neurons migrate and reach their final sites of differentiation and circuit integration.

Science, this issue p. 81


GABAergic interneurons (GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid) regulate neural-circuit activity in the mammalian cerebral cortex. These cortical interneurons are structurally and functionally diverse. Here, we use single-cell transcriptomics to study the origins of this diversity in the mouse. We identify distinct types of progenitor cells and newborn neurons in the ganglionic eminences, the embryonic proliferative regions that give rise to cortical interneurons. These embryonic precursors show temporally and spatially restricted transcriptional patterns that lead to different classes of interneurons in the adult cerebral cortex. Our findings suggest that shortly after the interneurons become postmitotic, their diversity is already patent in their diverse transcriptional programs, which subsequently guide further differentiation in the developing cortex.

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