Spatiotemporal molecular dynamics of the developing human thalamus

Chang N. Kim, David Shin, Albert Wang, and Tomasz J. Nowakowski.


The thalamus plays a central coordinating role in the brain. Thalamic neurons are organized into spatially distinct nuclei, but the molecular architecture of thalamic development is poorly understood, especially in humans. To begin to delineate the molecular trajectories of cell fate specification and organization in the developing human thalamus, we used single-cell and multiplexed spatial transcriptomics. We show that molecularly defined thalamic neurons differentiate in the second trimester of human development and that these neurons organize into spatially and molecularly distinct nuclei. We identified major subtypes of glutamatergic neuron subtypes that are differentially enriched in anatomically distinct nuclei and six subtypes of γ-aminobutyric acid–mediated (GABAergic) neurons that are shared and distinct across thalamic nuclei.