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Single-cell genomics reveals region-specific developmental trajectories underlying neuronal diversity in the prenatal human hypothalamus

By Brian Herb, Hannah J. Glover, Aparna Bhaduri, Alex M Casella, Tracy L Bale, Arnold Kriegstein, Claudia Doege, Seth A Ament

Posted 20 Jul 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.20.453090

The hypothalamus is critically important for regulating most autonomic, metabolic, and behavioral functions essential for life and species propagation, yet a comprehensive understanding of neuronal subtypes and their development in the human brain is lacking. Here, we characterized the prenatal human hypothalamus by sequencing the transcriptomes of 45,574 single-cells from 12 embryos, spanning gestational weeks 4 through 25. These cells describe a temporal trajectory from proliferative stem cell populations to maturing neurons and glia, including 38 distinct excitatory and inhibitory neuronal subtypes. Merging these data with paired samples from the cortex and ganglionic eminences (GE) revealed two distinct neurogenesis pathways, one shared between GE and hypothalamus and a second unique to cortex. Gene regulatory network modeling predicted that these distinct maturation trajectories involve the activation of region- and cell type-specific transcription factor networks. These results provide the first comprehensive transcriptomic view of human hypothalamus development at cellular resolution.

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