Back to the sources of neural diversity
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By deciphering the genetic programmes of neurons of the cerebral cortex, Swiss and Belgian researchers unravel the mechanisms controlling the genesis of cells in one of the most essential parts of our brain.
The cortex is a complex brain region that allows us to perceive the world and interact with objects and beings around us. The diversity of the tasks it can perform is reflected in the diversity of the neurons that compose it. Indeed, several dozen cells types with distinct functions come together during embryogenesis to form the countless circuits that shape the basis of our thoughts and actions. These neurons are spawned from progenitor stem cells, which divide and produce these different cell types one after the other. But how do these progenitors manage to generate specific types of neurons in the right place at the right time? By identifying the genetic scenarios at work, researchers from the universities of Geneva (UNIGE), Lausanne (UNIL), in Switzerland, and Liège (ULiège), in Belgium, lift the veil on the birth of cells that make up brain circuits. These results, to be discovered in the journal Science, also provide a deeper understanding of the origin of neurodevelopmental disorders.