Molecular and cellular dynamics of the developing human neocortex at single-cell resolution

Li Wang, Cheng Wang, Juan A. Moriano, Songcang Chen, Shaobo Zhang, Tanzila Mukhtar, Shaohui Wang, Arantxa Cebrián-Silla, Qiuli Bi, Jonathan J. Augustin, Lilian Gomes de Oliveira, Mengyi Song, Xinxin Ge, Guolong Zuo, Mercedes F. Paredes, Eric J. Huang, Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, Xin Duan, Jingjing Li, Arnold R. Kriegstein
bioRxiv (2024)


The development of the human neocortex is a highly dynamic process and involves complex cellular trajectories controlled by cell-type-specific gene regulation1. Here, we collected paired single-nucleus chromatin accessibility and transcriptome data from 38 human neocortical samples encompassing both the prefrontal cortex and primary visual cortex. These samples span five main developmental stages, ranging from the first trimester to adolescence. In parallel, we performed spatial transcriptomic analysis on a subset of the samples to illustrate spatial organization and intercellular communication. This atlas enables us to catalog cell type-, age-, and area-specific gene regulatory networks underlying neural differentiation. Moreover, combining single-cell profiling, progenitor purification, and lineage-tracing experiments, we have untangled the complex lineage relationships among progenitor subtypes during the transition from neurogenesis to gliogenesis in the human neocortex. Specifically, we find a tripotential intermediate progenitor subtype termed Tri-IPC responsible for the local production of GABAergic neurons. Furthermore, by integrating our atlas data with large-scale GWAS data, we created a disease-risk map highlighting enriched ASD risk in second-trimester intratelencephalic projection neurons. Our study sheds light on the gene regulatory landscape and cellular dynamics of the developing human neocortex.