Wuttke TV, Markopoulos F, Padmanabhan H, Wheeler AP, Murthy VN, Macklis JD. 2018. Developmentally primed cortical neurons maintain fidelity of differentiation and establish appropriate functional connectivity after transplantation. Nature neuroscience. 21(4):517-529. Pubmed: 29507412 DOI:10.1038/s41593-018-0098-0


Repair of complex CNS circuitry requires newly incorporated neurons to become appropriately, functionally integrated. One approach is to direct differentiation of endogenous progenitors in situ, or ex vivo followed by transplantation. Prior studies find that newly incorporated neurons can establish long-distance axon projections, form synapses and functionally integrate in evolutionarily old hypothalamic energy-balance circuitry. We now demonstrate that postnatal neocortical connectivity can be reconstituted with point-to-point precision, including cellular integration of specific, molecularly identified projection neuron subtypes into correct positions, combined with development of appropriate long-distance projections and synapses. Using optogenetics-based electrophysiology, experiments demonstrate functional afferent and efferent integration of transplanted neurons into transcallosal projection neuron circuitry. Results further indicate that 'primed' early postmitotic neurons, including already fate-restricted deep-layer projection neurons and/or plastic postmitotic neuroblasts with partially fate-restricted potential, account for the predominant population of neurons capable of achieving this optimal level of integration.

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Jeffrey Macklis investigates molecular controls and mechanisms over neuron subtype specification, development, diversity, axon guidance-circuit formation, and pathology in the cerebral cortex. His lab seeks to apply developmental controls toward brain and spinal cord regeneration and directed differentiation for in vitro mechanistic modeling using human assembloids.

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