Pluto Bioinformatics

GSE144825: Human-chimpanzee cell fusion reveals cis-regulatory evolution of neural development

Bulk RNA sequencing

Among primates, humans display a unique trajectory of development responsible for the many traits specific to our species. However, the inaccessibility of human and chimpanzee primary tissues has limited our ability to study human evolution. Comparative in vitro approaches using primate-derived induced pluripotent stem cells have begun to reveal species differences on the cellular and molecular levels. In particular, brain organoids have emerged as a promising platform to study primate neural development in vitro, although cross-species comparisons of organoids are complicated by differences in developmental timing and variability of differentiation. Here, we developed a new platform to address these limitations. We first generated a panel of tetraploid hybrid stem cells by fusing human and chimpanzee induced pluripotent stem cells. We next applied this approach to study species divergence in cerebral cortical development by differentiating them into neural organoids. We found that hybrid organoids provide a controlled system for disentangling cis- and trans-acting gene expression divergence across cell types and developmental stages, revealing a signature of selection on astrocyte-related genes. In addition, we identified an up-regulation of human somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2), which regulates neuronal calcium signaling and is associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. We discovered a human-specific response to modulation of SSTR2 function in cortical neurons, underscoring the potential of this unique platform to reveal the molecular basis of human evolution. SOURCE: Rachel Agoglia Stanford University

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