Comparative transcriptomics reveals human-specific cortical features

Nikolas L. Jorstad, Janet H.T. Song, David Exposito-Alonso, Hamsini Suresh, Nathan Castro-Pacheco, Soumyadeep Basu, Thomas Kroes, Thomas Höllt, Boudewijn P. Lelieveldt, More Authors

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The cognitive abilities of humans are distinctive among primates, but their molecular and cellular substrates are poorly understood. We used comparative single-nucleus transcriptomics to analyze samples of the middle temporal gyrus (MTG) from adult humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, rhesus macaques, and common marmosets to understand human-specific features of the neocortex. Human, chimpanzee, and gorilla MTG showed highly similar cell-type composition and laminar organization as well as a large shift in proportions of deep-layer intratelencephalic-projecting neurons compared with macaque and marmoset MTG. Microglia, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes had more-divergent expression across species compared with neurons or oligodendrocyte precursor cells, and neuronal expression diverged more rapidly on the human lineage. Only a few hundred genes showed human-specific patterning, suggesting that relatively few cellular and molecular changes distinctively define adult human cortical structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereade9516
Number of pages19
JournalScience (New York, N.Y.)
Issue number6667
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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