Journals


Comprehensive functional genomic resource and integrative model for the human brain

Science

Ranking score levels and functional categories are as in the key in (B). Highlighted ranks and terms correspond to examples shown in (D).


Transcriptome-wide isoform-level dysregulation in ASD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder

Science

Our understanding of the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia (SCZ), and bipolar disorder (BD), lags behind other fields of medicine. The diagnosis and study of these disorders currently depend on behavioral, symptomatic characterization. Defining genetic contributions to disease risk allows for biological, mechanistic understanding but is challenged by genetic complexity, polygenicity, and the lack of a cohesive neurobiological model to interpret findings. The transcriptome represents a quantitative phenotype that provides biological context for understanding the molecular pathways disrupted in major psychiatric disorders. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) in a large cohort of cases and controls can advance our knowledge of the biology disrupted in each disorder and provide a foundational resource for integration with genomic and genetic data.


Spatiotemporal transcriptomic divergence across human and macaque brain development

Science

Improved understanding of how the developing human nervous system differs from that of closely related nonhuman primates is fundamental for teasing out human-specific aspects of behavior, cognition, and disorders. The shared and unique functional properties of the human nervous system are rooted in the complex transcriptional programs governing the development of distinct cell types, neural circuits, and regions. However, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying shared and unique features of the developing human nervous system have been only minimally characterized. We generated complementary tissue-level and single-cell transcriptomic datasets from up to 16 brain regions covering prenatal and postnatal development in humans and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), a closely related species and the most commonly studied nonhuman primate. We created and applied TranscriptomeAge and TempShift algorithms to age-match developing specimens between the species and to more rigorously ...


Integrative functional genomic analysis of human brain development and neuropsychiatric risks

Science

The brain is responsible for cognition, behavior, and much of what makes us uniquely human. The development of the brain is a highly complex process, and this process is reliant on precise regulation of molecular and cellular events grounded in the spatiotemporal regulation of the transcriptome. Disruption of this regulation can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders. The regulatory, epigenomic, and transcriptomic features of the human brain have not been comprehensively compiled across time, regions, or cell types. Understanding the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders requires knowledge not just of endpoint differences between healthy and diseased brains but also of the developmental and cellular contexts in which these differences arise. Moreover, an emerging body of research indicates that many aspects of the development and physiology of the human brain are not well recapitulated in model organisms, and therefore it is necessary that neuropsychiatric disorders be understood in the broader context of the developing and adult human brain. Here we describe the generation and analysis of a variety of genomic data modalities at the tissue and single-cell levels, including transcriptome, DNA methylation, and histone modifications across multiple brain regions ranging in age from embryonic development through adulthood. We observed a widespread transcriptomic transition beginning during late fetal development and consisting of sharply decreased regional differences. This reduction coincided with increases in the transcriptional signatures of mature neurons and the expression of genes associated with dendrite development, synapse development, and neuronal activity, all of which were temporally synchronous across neocortical areas, as well as myelination and oligodendrocytes, which were asynchronous. Moreover, genes including MEF2C, SATB2, and TCF4, with genetic associations to multiple brain-related traits and disorders, converged in a small number of modules exhibiting spatial or spatiotemporal specificity. We generated and applied our dataset to document transcriptomic and epigenetic changes across human development and then related those changes to major neuropsychiatric disorders. These data allowed us to identify genes, cell types, gene coexpression modules, and spatiotemporal loci where disease risk might converge, demonstrating the utility of the dataset and providing new insights into human development and disease.


Transcriptome and epigenome landscape of human cortical development modeled in organoids

Science

The human cerebral cortex has undergone an extraordinary increase in size and complexity during mammalian evolution. Cortical cell lineages are specified in the embryo, and genetic and epidemiological evidence implicates early cortical development in the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities, and schizophrenia. Most of the disease-implicated genomic variants are located outside of genes, and the interpretation of noncoding mutations is lagging behind owing to limited annotation of functional elements in the noncoding genome. We set out to discover gene-regulatory elements and chart their dynamic activity during prenatal human cortical development, focusing on enhancers, which carry most of the weight upon regulation of gene expression. We longitudinally modeled human brain development using human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)–derived cortical organoids and compared organoids to isogenic fetal brain tissue. Fetal fibroblast–derived hiPSC lines were used to generate cortically patterned organoids and to compare oganoids' epigenome and transcriptome to that of isogenic fetal brains and external datasets. Organoids model cortical development between 5 and 16 postconception weeks, thus enabling us to study transitions from cortical stem cells to progenitors to early neurons. The greatest changes occur at the transition from stem cells to progenitors. The regulatory landscape encompasses a total set of 96,375 enhancers linked to target genes, with 49,640 enhancers being active in organoids but not in mid-fetal brain, suggesting major roles in cortical neuron specification. Enhancers that gained activity in the human lineage are active in the earliest stages of organoid development, when they target genes that regulate the growth of radial glial cells. Parallel weighted gene coexpression network analysis (WGCNA) of transcriptome and enhancer activities defined a number of modules of coexpressed genes and coactive enhancers, following just six and four global temporal patterns that we refer to as supermodules, likely reflecting fundamental programs in embryonic and fetal brain. Correlations between gene expression and enhancer activity allowed stratifying enhancers into two categories: activating regulators (A-regs) and repressive regulators (R-regs).


Genome-wide de novo risk score implicates promoter variation in autism spectrum disorder

Science

The DNA of protein-coding genes is transcribed into mRNA, which is translated into proteins. The "coding genome" describes the DNA that contains the information to make these proteins and represents 1.5% of the human genome. Newly arising de novo mutations (variants observed in a child but not in either parent) in the coding genome contribute to numerous childhood developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Discovery of these effects is aided by the triplet code that enables the functional impact of many mutations to be readily deciphered. In contrast, the "noncoding genome" covers the remaining 98.5% and includes elements that regulate when, where, and to what degree protein-coding genes are transcribed. Understanding this noncoding sequence could provide insights into human disorders and refined control of emerging genetic therapies. Yet little is known about the role of mutations in noncoding regions, including whether they contribute to childhood developmental disorders, which noncoding elements are most vulnerable to disruption, and the manner in which information is encoded in the noncoding genome. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) provides the opportunity to identify the majority of genetic variation in each individual.


Neuron-specific signatures in the chromosomal connectome associated with schizophrenia risk

Science

Chromosomal conformations, topologically associated chromatin domains (TADs) assembling in nested fashion across hundreds of kilobases, and other "three-dimensional genome" (3DG) structures bypass the linear genome on a kilo- or megabase scale and play an important role in transcriptional regulation. Most of the genetic variants associated with risk for schizophrenia (SZ) are common and could be located in enhancers, repressors, and other regulatory elements that influence gene expression; however, the role of the brain's 3DG for SZ genetic risk architecture, including developmental and cell type–specific regulation, remains poorly understood. We monitored changes in 3DG after isogenic differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived neural progenitor cells (NPCs) into neurons or astrocyte-like glial cells on a genome-wide scale using Hi-C. With this in vitro model of brain development, we mapped cell type–specific chromosomal conformations associated with SZ risk loci and defined a risk-associated expanded genome space. Neural differentiation was associated with genome-wide 3DG remodeling, including pruning and de novo formations of chromosomal loopings. The NPC-to-neuron transition was defined by the pruning of loops involving regulators of cell proliferation, morphogenesis, and neurogenesis, which is consistent with a departure from a precursor stage toward postmitotic neuronal identity. Loops lost during NPC-to-glia transition included many genes associated with neuron-specific functions, which is consistent with non-neuronal lineage commitment. However, neurons together with NPCs, as compared with glia, harbored a much larger number of chromosomal interactions anchored in common variant sequences associated with SZ risk. Because spatial 3DG proximity of genes is an indicator for potential coregulation, we tested whether the neural cell type–specific SZ-related "chromosomal connectome" showed evidence of coordinated transcriptional regulation and proteomic interaction of the participating genes. To this end, we generated lists of genes anchored in cell type–specific SZ risk-associated interactions. Thus, for the NPC-specific interactions, we counted 386 genes, including 146 within the risk loci and another 240 genes positioned elsewhere in the linear genome but connected via intrachromosomal contacts to risk locus sequences.


Revealing the brain's molecular architecture

Science

Genetic variants may lead to disease, denoted here by a dimmed letter representing a nucleotide. The PsychENCODE Consortium presents research to link the effects of genetic variation to gene expression in the brain. The brain, our most complex organ, is at the root of both the cognitive and behavioral repertoires that make us unique as a species and underlies susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders. Healthy brain development and neurological function rely on precise spatiotemporal regulation of the transcriptome, which varies substantially by brain region and cell type. Recent advances in the genetics of neuropsychiatric disorders reveal a highly polygenic risk architecture involving contributions of multiple common variants with small effects and rare variants with a range of effects.


Robotic rat friends

Science

Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout society. Surprisingly perhaps, humans can feel a sense of altruism and empathy with robots that have human or animal traits. Such responses raise questions about how robots might affect social interactions. Quinn et al. show that rats, a highly social species that displays several types of reciprocity and empathy, will help small robots "escape" from a cage. Help is even more prompt for those robots that show rat-like social and helping behaviors.


Searching for the best conditions

Science

The vastness of the archival chemistry literature is both a blessing and a curse. The reaction that you're looking for is probably in there, provided you take enough time to search for it. Gao et al. trained a neural network model on 10 million known reactions to speed up this process. Specifically, the model was charged with predicting a catalyst, reagents, solvents, and temperature to achieve a given transformation. When tested, the model's top-10 list of suggestions produced a close match to actual conditions nearly 70% of the time, with a 20 C error margin in temperature.