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Subcortical origins of human and monkey neocortical interneurons

Abstract

Cortical GABAergic inhibitory interneurons have crucial roles in the development and function of the cerebral cortex. In rodents, nearly all neocortical interneurons are generated from the subcortical ganglionic eminences. In humans and nonhuman primates, however, the developmental origin of neocortical GABAergic interneurons remains unclear. Here we show that the expression patterns of several key transcription factors in the developing primate telencephalon are very similar to those in rodents, delineating the three main subcortical progenitor domains (the medial, lateral and caudal ganglionic eminences) and the interneurons tangentially migrating from them. On the basis of the continuity of Sox6, COUP-TFII and Sp8 transcription factor expression and evidence from cell migration and cell fate analyses, we propose that the majority of primate neocortical GABAergic interneurons originate from ganglionic eminences of the ventral telencephalon. Our findings reveal that the mammalian neocortex shares basic rules for interneuron development, substantially reshaping our understanding of the origin and classification of primate neocortical interneurons.

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Figure 1: Identification of the MGE and the LGE and CGE on the basis of expression of Nkx2-1 and Sp8 in the human fetal brain at GW15.
Figure 2: GABAergic interneurons in GW15 human neocortex appear to derive from the subcortical ganglionic eminences.
Figure 3: Sox6+ neocortical interneurons are derived from the human fetal MGE.
Figure 4: Subcortical origins and migration of human neocortical interneurons.
Figure 5: Classification of human neocortical interneurons on the basis of their ontogenic origins and expression of transcription factors.
Figure 6: Subcortical origins and classification of monkey neocortical interneurons.
Figure 7: Lack of GABA+ cell production within the embryonic monkey neocortex.
Figure 8: The subtypes of monkey neocortical interneurons that express the transcription factors Sox6, COUP-TFII and Sp8.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2011CB504400 and 2010CB945500) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30990261, 31028009, 31121061 and 91232723). We thank the staff at the Chinese Brain Bank Center, Wuhan, China and the Red Cross Society of China, Shanghai Branch at Fudan University for providing access to donated adult human brains.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

T.M. and Z.Y. designed the study, acquired and interpreted experimental data and prepared the manuscript. C.W. and L.W. acquired and interpreted experimental data and prepared the manuscript. X.Z., M.T., Q.Z., Y.Z., J.L., Z.L., Y.C., F.L., Y.Y. and C.C. assisted with experiments and data collection. J.L. and Y.C. carried out slice culture and time-lapse imaging experiments. K.C., H.S., L.M. and J.L.R. designed some experiments and assisted with manuscript preparation. T.M., C.W., L.W., Z.Y. and C.C. collected specimens. C.C. assisted with neuropathological review. Z.Y. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhengang Yang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Integrated supplementary information

Supplementary Figure 1 Identification of the dLGE/dCGE and vLGE based on expression of Sp8, Pax6 and Islet-1 in the human fetal brain at GW15.

(a–d) Pax6 and Sp8 double-immunostained brain sections spanning the rostral-caudal extent of the brain at GW15. (e) Higher magnification of the boxed area in (c) showing that Pax6 was expressed in proliferative zones of the neocortex and dLGE. (f, g) Islet-1 and Sp8 double-immunostained GW15 human brain sections. (h) Higher magnification of the boxed area in (f) showing weakly Islet-1+ cells in the vLGE SVZ and strongly Islet-1+ cells in the striatum. LV, lateral ventricle; Sep, septum. St, striatum. Scale bars, 1 mm (a–d, f, g); 100 μm (e, h).

Supplementary Figure 2 Expression of COUP-TFII and Sp8 in the human fetal brain at GW15.

(a–h) COUP-TFII and Sp8 double-immunostaining was performed on GW15 human brain sections. Note expression of COUP-TFII in an increasing rostral-to-caudal gradient from dLGE to dCGE. The RMS contained massive Sp8+ cells and very few COUP-TFII+ cells suggesting that COUP-TFII+ cells in the dLGE/dCGE migrate mainly into the cortex. (i) COUP-TFII+ cells in the dCGE were mainly located in the SVZ; the majority of them did not express Ki67. (h) In the vCGE, COUP-TFII+ cells were in the VZ and SVZ; many of them expressed Ki67. LV, lateral ventricle; Sep, septum; St, striatum; Th, thalamus.

Supplementary Figure 3 COUP-TFII+ cells are also observed in the MGE at GW15.

(a, b) COUP-TFII and Nkx2-1 double-immunostained GW15 human brain sections. (c, d) Higher magnification of the boxed areas in (a, b). (e) Higher magnification of the boxed area in (c). Note a large population of COUP-TFII+/Nkx2-1+ cells in the caudal MGE. (f) Diagram of subcortical progenitor domains of the human fetal brain at GW15 based on expression patterns of Sp8, COUP-TFII, Islet-1, Nkx2-1 and Sox6. Am, amygdala; Nc, neocortex; IZ, intermediate zone; LV, lateral ventricle; SP, subplate; St, striatum; Th, thalamus; TL, temporal lobe. Scale bars, 1 mm (a, b); 200 μm (c); 50 μm (d, e).

Supplementary Figure 4 Identification of the MGE in the human fetal brain at GW18 and GW24 based on expression of Nkx2-1.

(a) Nkx2-1 and Sp8 double-immunostained sections spanning the rostral-caudal extent of the human fetal brain at GW18. (b) Nkx2-1 and Sp8 double-immunostained sections spanning the rostral-caudal extent of the human fetal brain at GW24.

Supplementary Figure 5 A small number of Nkx2-1+ cells are observed in the dLGE SVZ and neocortex of the human fetal brain at GW24.

(a) Coronal GW24 brain section double-immunostained with COUP-TFII and Nkx2-1. (b–f) Higher magnification of the boxed areas in (a) showing Nkx2-1+ cells in the neocortex (b), dLGE (c), MGE (d, e) and striatum (f). (g, h) The majority of Nkx2-1+ cells in the MGE expressed Ki67. (i, j) Nkx2-1+ cells in the neocortical VZ/SVZ did not express Ki67. Scale bars, 2 mm (a); 100 μm (b–f); 50 μm (g–j).

Supplementary Figure 6 Supplementary Figure 6. Gsx2 is expressed in the LGE and MGE but not in the neocortical VZ/SVZ of the human fetal brain at GW24.

(a) Ki67 and Sp8 double-immunostained GW24 human brain section. (b) An adjacent section immunostained with Gsx2. (c–e) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (b) showing that Gsx2+ cells were in the LGE and MGE, but not in the neocortical VZ/SVZ. Scale bars, 500 μm (a, b); 50 μm (c–e).

Supplementary Figure 7 COUP-TFII+/Sp8+ cells in the neocortical VZ/SVZ do not express Ki67, Tbr2 or Olig2.

(a–c) GW24 human brain sections triple-immunostained with COUP-TFII/Sp8/Ki67 (a), COUP-TFII/Sp8/Tbr2 (b) and COUP-TFII/Sp8/Olig2 (c).

Supplementary Figure 8 The subtypes of neocortical interneurons in the adult human brain express transcription factors Sox6, COUP-TFII and Sp8.

(a–n) Brain sections from the parietal lobe of the adult neocortex immunostained with interneuron markers and transcription factors. Note that the majority of PV+ (a), CB+ (c), SOM+ (e) and nNOS+ (g) cells expressed Sox6. Few, if any, PV+ (b), CB+ (d) and NPY+ (i) cells expressed COUP-TFII or Sp8. A small number of SOM+ (f) and nNOS+ (h) cells in deeper layers expressed COUP-TFII. The majority of CR+ (m), VIP+ (n) and strongly Reelin+ (j) cells expressed COUP-TFII and/or Sp8. Few, if any, CR+ (l) and strongly Reelin+ (k) cells expressed Sox6. (o–t) Some interneuron markers were co-expressed in a subpopulation of neocortical interneurons. Note that a wide range overlap of SOM+, nNOS+ and CB+ cells (o). The majority of NPY+ cells expressed SOM and nNOS (p). Nearly all VIP+ cells expressed CR (t). However, no CR+/SOM+ (q) or CR+/nNOS+ (r) cells were found. Scale bars, 100 μm (a–t); 50 μm (inserts).

Supplementary Figure 9 The proportions of Sox6+, COUP-TFII+ and Sp8+ neocortical interneurons in the frontal, temporal and occipital lobe of the adult human brain are different.

(a) Sox6/COUP-TFII/Sp8 triple-immunostained brain section from the parietal lobe of the adult neocortex (Brodmann areas 3, 1, 2). (b) Sox6/NeuN double-immunostained neocortical section showing Sox6+/NeuN+ interneurons. (c) Quantification data showed that there was a higher proportion of COUP-TFII+ and/or Sp8+ interneurons in the frontal lobe neocortex (Brodmann areas 9), while a higher proportion of Sox6+ interneurons were in the temporal (Brodmann areas 21) and occipital lobe neocortex (Brodmann areas 17).

Supplementary Figure 10 Identification of the MGE, LGE and CGE in E55 macaque monkey forebrain based on expression of Nkx2-1, COUP-TFII and Sp8.

(a–f) Nkx2-1 and COUP-TFII double-immunostained brain coronal sections spanning the rostral-caudal extent of E55 monkey brain. (g–i) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (c, d). Note that a small number of COUP–TFII+ cells in the dorsal MGE (g). (j–o) Sp8 and COUP-TFII double-immunostained E55 brain sections. Note that Sp8 was expressed in the cortical VZ in a high to low rostrodorsal to caudoventral gradient. (p–s) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (k, n, o). Note COUP-TFII+ cells in both the VZ and SVZ of the vCGE (s).

Supplementary Figure 11 Expression of Gsx2, Pax6 and Sp8 in E55 monkey forebrain.

(a–f) Gsx2 and Sp8 double-immunostaining was performed on E55 monkey brain sections. (g–j) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (a, c, f). Gsx2 was mainly expressed in the GE VZ, while Sp8 was mainly expressed in the LGE/CGE SVZ. Many Gsx2+/Sp8+ cells were found in the SVZ. (k–p) Pax6 and Sp8 double-immunostaining was performed on E55 monkey brain sections. (q–t) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (l–n). Note that all Sp8+ cells in the medial cortical VZ expressed Pax6 (i), suggesting that they are primary progenitors of excitatory glutamatergic projection neurons.

Supplementary Figure 12 The proportions of Sox6+, COUP-TFII+ and Sp8+ interneurons in the monkey frontal, temporal and occipital lobe are different.

(a) In 6-month-old and 17-month-old monkey brains, a higher proportion of COUP-TFII+ and/or Sp8+ interneurons was found in the frontal lobe neocortex (prefrontal cortex), while a higher proportion of Sox6+ interneurons was found in the neocortex of the temporal (lateral temporal cortex) and occipital lobe (primary visual cortex). (b–d) The percentage of different subtypes of interneurons that expressed transcription factors in the 6-month-old monkey prefrontal cortex. (e–g) The percentage of different transcription factors that expressed interneuron markers in the 6-month-old monkey prefrontal cortex. (h–j) The percentage of different transcription factors that expressed interneuron markers in the 17-month-old monkey prefrontal cortex. (k) Schematic diagram showing the origin and classification of monkey and human neocortical interneurons. We propose that the majority of neocortical interneurons in the monkey and human brain originate from the MGE, dLGE and CGE of the ventral telencephalon (see quantitative data in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6). MGE-derived neocortical interneurons (Sox6+) mainly includes PV+, SOM+, nNOS+, CB+ and NPY+ interneurons. PV+ interneurons represent a distinct subpopulation of MGE-derived neocortical interneurons, whereas SOM+, nNOS+ and CB+ interneurons largely overlap. The vast majority of NPY+ interneurons express SOM and nNOS but not CB. NPY+ interneurons strongly express SOM and nNOS, representing type I nNOS+ interneurons that have large somata. Weakly Reelin (W-Reelin)+ interneurons are derived from the MGE, which we only analyzed in the monkey neocortex. W-Reelin+ interneurons express SOM, nNOS and CB, but not NPY. A small subset of COUP-TFII+ interneurons is derived from the dorsal/caudal MGE (Sox6+). These interneurons express SOM and nNOS, but not CB or NPY. A small fraction of MGE-derived CR+/Sox6+ interneurons are present in the monkey but not human neocortex. These interneurons express SOM and nNOS, but not CB, NPY or COUP-TFII. Dorsal LGE and CGE (dLGE/CGE)-derived neocortical interneurons (COUP-TFII+ and/or Sp8+) mainly includes CR+, VIP+ and strongly Reelin (S-Reelin)+ interneurons. The vast majority of CR+ interneurons expresses COUP-TFII and/or Sp8, contributing to the largest population of dLGE/CGE-derived interneurons. Nearly all VIP+ and S-Reelin+ interneurons that express COUP-TFII and/or Sp8 but not Sox6 are derived from the dLGE/CGE. A subpopulation of S-Reelin+ interneurons and the majority of VIP+ interneurons also express CR.

Supplementary Figure 13 Ascl1 expression in E80 monkey neocortical and subcortical progenitor cells.

(a) Triple-immunostaining for Ascl1/Pax6/Tbr2 in E13.5 mouse brain section. (b) Immunostaining for Ascl1 in E80 monkey coronal brain section. (c) Double-immunostaining for Ascl1/Pax6 in E80 monkey coronal brain section showing that the majority of Ascl1+ cells expressed Pax6. (d–g) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (b) showing Ascl1+ cells in the neocortical VZ/SVZ (d, e), dorsal PSB (f) and ventral PSB (g). Note that many Ascl1+ cells in the neocortical VZ/SVZ expressed Tbr2 (d, e).

Supplementary Figure 14 Ascl1+ cells and Tbr2+ cells in the fetal human CGE and neocortex at GW18.

(a) Double-immunostaining for Ascl1 and Tbr2 in GW18 human coronal brain section. (b) Higher magnification of the boxed area in (a). (c–e) Higher magnification of the boxed area in (a) showing that most Ascl1+ cells in the cortical VZ/SVZ expressed Tbr2. (f, g) Ascl1+ cells in the neocortical SVZ did not express GAD65/67 or GABA.

Supplementary Figure 15 Ascl1 expression in GW24 human neocortical and subcortical progenitor cells.

(a) Immunostaining for Ascl1 in GW24 human coronal brain section. (b–e) Higher magnification of boxed areas in (a) showing Ascl1+ cells in the neocortical SVZ (b), LGE (c), MGE (d), and ventral PSB (e). (f–h) Higher magnification of the boxed area in (b) showing that the majority of Ascl1+ cells expressed Pax6, suggesting that Ascl1+ cells in the neocortical SVZ are progenitors of neocortical projection neurons. Scale bars, 1 mm (a), 400 μm (b–e); 100 μm (f–h).

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–15, Supplementary Tables 1–3, and Supplementary Movies 1–4 (PDF 21782 kb)

This movie shows an example of one mitotic MGE cell migrating tangentially to the LGE.

GFP-expressing adenovirus (adenoGFP) was microinjected into the MGE of an E55 monkey brain slice. Time-lapse images were captured by Perkin Elmer UltraView live cell imaging system. The recording was started around 24 hours after virus injection. The recording time lasted approximately 120 hours (5 days) and the recording interval was 25 minutes. Twenty-four after virus injection, we found many GFP-labeled cells in the VZ/SVZ of the MGE and LGE. A very small number of GFP+ cells were also observed in the neocortex at this stage. Forty-nine hours after virus injection, a mitotic cell (arrows) in the MGE migrating into the LGE was observed. (MPG 13758 kb)

MGE cells migrate towards the LGE.

Twenty-five hours after virus injection, a mitotic cell (arrows) and a postmitotic cell (arrowhead) migrated tangentially from the MGE towards the LGE. Note that the postmitotic cell (arrowhead) had a leading process oriented away from the MGE. (MPG 18260 kb)

This movie shows an example of one mitotic cell migrating from the LGE towards the neocortex.

Forty-four hours after virus injection, a mitotic cell (arrows) in the LGE migrated towards the neocortex. This cell divided twice while migrating. (MPG 11086 kb)

This movie shows a mitotic cell migrating from the LGE towards the neocortex.

Fifty-eight hours after virus injection, a mitotic cell (arrows) in the LGE migrated towards the neocortex. (MPG 13386 kb)

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Ma, T., Wang, C., Wang, L. et al. Subcortical origins of human and monkey neocortical interneurons. Nat Neurosci 16, 1588–1597 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3536

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3536

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