Defining the nature of human pluripotent stem cell-derived interneurons via single-cell analysis

Stem Cell Reports. 2021 Oct 12;16(10):2548-2564. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2021.08.006. Epub 2021 Sep 9.

Abstract

The specification of inhibitory neurons has been described for the mouse and human brain, and many studies have shown that pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) can be used to create interneurons in vitro. It is unclear whether in vitro methods to produce human interneurons generate all the subtypes found in brain, and how similar in vitro and in vivo interneurons are. We applied single-nuclei and single-cell transcriptomics to model interneuron development from human cortex and interneurons derived from PSCs. We provide a direct comparison of various in vitro interneuron derivation methods to determine the homogeneity achieved. We find that PSC-derived interneurons capture stages of development prior to mid-gestation, and represent a minority of potential subtypes found in brain. Comparison with those found in fetal or adult brain highlighted decreased expression of synapse-related genes. These analyses highlight the potential to tailor the method of generation to drive formation of particular subtypes.

Keywords: human brain interneuron; neuronal specification; pluripotent stem cell; single nuclei transcriptomics; transcriptional factor programming.