Inferring and perturbing cell fate regulomes in human brain organoids

Nature. 2023 Sep;621(7978):365-372. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05279-8. Epub 2022 Oct 5.


Self-organizing neural organoids grown from pluripotent stem cells1-3 combined with single-cell genomic technologies provide opportunities to examine gene regulatory networks underlying human brain development. Here we acquire single-cell transcriptome and accessible chromatin data over a dense time course in human organoids covering neuroepithelial formation, patterning, brain regionalization and neurogenesis, and identify temporally dynamic and brain-region-specific regulatory regions. We developed Pando-a flexible framework that incorporates multi-omic data and predictions of transcription-factor-binding sites to infer a global gene regulatory network describing organoid development. We use pooled genetic perturbation with single-cell transcriptome readout to assess transcription factor requirement for cell fate and state regulation in organoids. We find that certain factors regulate the abundance of cell fates, whereas other factors affect neuronal cell states after differentiation. We show that the transcription factor GLI3 is required for cortical fate establishment in humans, recapitulating previous research performed in mammalian model systems. We measure transcriptome and chromatin accessibility in normal or GLI3-perturbed cells and identify two distinct GLI3 regulomes that are central to telencephalic fate decisions: one regulating dorsoventral patterning with HES4/5 as direct GLI3 targets, and one controlling ganglionic eminence diversification later in development. Together, we provide a framework for how human model systems and single-cell technologies can be leveraged to reconstruct human developmental biology.

MeSH terms

  • Brain* / cytology
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Lineage* / genetics
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Organoids* / cytology
  • Organoids* / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • Chromatin
  • GLI3 protein, human
  • Hes4 protein, human
  • HES5 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors