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Cerebral organoid model reveals excessive proliferation of human caudal late interneuron progenitors in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Although the intricate and prolonged development of the human brain critically distinguishes it from other mammals, our current understanding of neurodevelopmental diseases is largely based on work using animal models. Recent studies revealed that neural progenitors in the human brain are profoundly different from those found in rodent animal models. Moreover, post-mortem studies revealed extensive migration of interneurons into the late-gestational and post-natal human prefrontal cortex that does not occur in rodents. Here, we use cerebral organoids to show that overproduction of mid-gestational human interneurons causes Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a severe neuro-developmental disorder associated with mutations in TSC1 and TSC2. We identify a previously uncharacterized population of caudal late interneuron progenitors, the CLIP-cells. In organoids derived from patients carrying heterozygous TSC2 mutations, dysregulation of mTOR signaling leads to CLIP-cell over-proliferation and formation of cortical tubers and subependymal tumors. Surprisingly, second-hit events resulting from copy-neutral loss-of-heterozygosity (cnLOH) are not causative for but occur during the progression of tumor lesions. Instead, EGFR signaling is required for tumor proliferation, opening up a promising approach to treat TSC lesions. Our study demonstrates that the analysis of developmental disorders in organoid models can lead to fundamental insights into human brain development and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001006332 NextSeq 550 6
EGAD00001006333 Illumina NovaSeq 6000 3
Publications Citations
Amplification of human interneuron progenitors promotes brain tumors and neurological defects.
Science 375: 2022 eabf5546
Gruffi: an algorithm for computational removal of stressed cells from brain organoid transcriptomic datasets.
EMBO J 41: 2022 e111118