Coupled electrophysiological recording and single cell transcriptome analyses revealed molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal maturation

Protein Cell. 2016 Mar;7(3):175-86. doi: 10.1007/s13238-016-0247-8. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


The mammalian brain is heterogeneous, containing billions of neurons and trillions of synapses forming various neural circuitries, through which sense, movement, thought, and emotion arise. The cellular heterogeneity of the brain has made it difficult to study the molecular logic of neural circuitry wiring, pruning, activation, and plasticity, until recently, transcriptome analyses with single cell resolution makes decoding of gene regulatory networks underlying aforementioned circuitry properties possible. Here we report success in performing both electrophysiological and whole-genome transcriptome analyses on single human neurons in culture. Using Weighted Gene Coexpression Network Analyses (WGCNA), we identified gene clusters highly correlated with neuronal maturation judged by electrophysiological characteristics. A tight link between neuronal maturation and genes involved in ubiquitination and mitochondrial function was revealed. Moreover, we identified a list of candidate genes, which could potentially serve as biomarkers for neuronal maturation. Coupled electrophysiological recording and single cell transcriptome analysis will serve as powerful tools in the future to unveil molecular logics for neural circuitry functions.

Keywords: Biomarkers for neuronal maturation; Patch-Seq; Ubiquitination and mitochondrial function; WGCNA; hESC/hiPSC-derived neuron.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Differentiation / biosynthesis
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Multigene Family / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome / physiology*


  • Antigens, Differentiation