Tissue morphology influences the temporal program of human brain organoid development

Cell Stem Cell. 2023 Oct 5;30(10):1351-1367.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2023.09.003.


Progression through fate decisions determines cellular composition and tissue architecture, but how that same architecture may impact cell fate is less clear. We took advantage of organoids as a tractable model to interrogate this interaction of form and fate. Screening methodological variations revealed that common protocol adjustments impacted various aspects of morphology, from macrostructure to tissue architecture. We examined the impact of morphological perturbations on cell fate through integrated single nuclear RNA sequencing (snRNA-seq) and spatial transcriptomics. Regardless of the specific protocol, organoids with more complex morphology better mimicked in vivo human fetal brain development. Organoids with perturbed tissue architecture displayed aberrant temporal progression, with cells being intermingled in both space and time. Finally, encapsulation to impart a simplified morphology led to disrupted tissue cytoarchitecture and a similar abnormal maturational timing. These data demonstrate that cells of the developing brain require proper spatial coordinates to undergo correct temporal progression.

Keywords: brain; cell fate; cytoarchitecture; development; differentiation; morphology; neurogenesis; organoids; spatial transcriptomics; stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Organoids*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA