Dresden researchers discover molecular mechanism underlying human neocortex folding
During human evolution, the size of the brain increased, especially in a particular part of the brain called the neocortex. The neocortex is responsible for our higher cognitive functions like speaking or thinking. To enable its expansion, the brain forms folds during fetal development that allow fitting the enlarged neocortex into the restricted space of the skull.
The right amount and position of folds during the development of a fetus is crucial for proper brain function. If the folding process is disrupted, as is the case in a developmental disorder called lissencephaly ("smooth brain"), this can result in cognitive defects. Until now, researchers knew very little about which molecules drive the folding of the human brain, and how.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden, in collaboration with colleagues at the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden (IPF) and the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden (UKD), now identified a novel extracellular matrix-driven mechanism that is essential for human neocortex folding. The researchers published their findings in the journal Neuron.
The neocortex is the seat of many of the higher cognitive functions that are unique to humans, such as our speech or the ability to learn. This part of the brain has expanded greatly in human evolution, and a key aspect of this expansion is the folding of the cortical surface. It is therefore crucial to gain a better understanding of how the human brain folds.
To investigate this, researchers at the MPI-CBG, in collaboration with colleagues at the IPF and UKD, examined the potential role of the extracellular matrix in the formation of brain folds. The extracellular matrix, a non-cellular three-dimensional macromolecular network, has been previously associated with the expansion of the neocortex.
The researchers focused on three proteins in the extracellular matrix: hyaluronan and proteoglycan link protein 1 (HAPLN1), lumican and collagen I. Dr. Katherine Long, the lead author of the study, explains: “When we added these three proteins to tissue cultures of fetal human neocortex, the cortical surface started to fold! This folding was linked to an increase in hyaluronic acid, which turned out to be essential for folding.” Further experiments showed: When hyaluronic acid was reduced in the tissue, the effect of the three proteins on the folding process was blocked, and the folding was either stopped or even reversed.
Prof. Wieland Huttner, who supervised the study, summarizes: “Our study provides a missing link between prior genetic and biophysical studies. We present a new model system to study folding of human neocortex tissue. This system also provides insight into disorders of human brain development.”
About the MPI-CBG
The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) is one of 84 institutes of the Max Planck Society, an independent, non-profit organization in Germany. 500 curiosity-driven scientists from over 50 countries ask: How do cells form tissues? The basic research programs of the MPI-CBG span multiple scales of magnitude, from molecular assemblies to organelles, cells, tissues, organs, and organisms.
+49 (0) 351 210 1500
+49 (0) 351 210 1483
Katherine R. Long, Ben Newland, Marta Florio, Nereo Kalebic, Barbara Langen, Anna Kolterer, Pauline Wimberger, Wieland B. Huttner: “Extracellular Matrix Components HAPLN1, Lumican, and Collagen I Cause Hyaluronic Acid-Dependent Folding of the Developing Human Neocortex.” Neuron, 02. August, 2018.
Katrin Boes | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
How nutrients are removed in oxygen-depleted regions of the ocean
03.08.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
New Method Refines Cell Sample Analysis
03.08.2018 | Universität Zürich
The first unambiguous observation of a radioactive molecule, 26AlF, was made in the ancient nova-like object CK Vul (or Nova Vul 1670), which - most likely - is a stellar-merger remnant. The eruption of the object was observed between 1670-1672 in Europe. The interest in this object has been recently rejuvenated by the discovery of molecular gas of a very peculiar isotopic composition in the remnant.
The finding was announced by an international research team led by Tomasz Kamiński (CfA), including Karl Menten (MPIfR Bonn).
The variable star CK Vulpeculae (CK Vul) is known as the location of a stellar outbreak, a nova, which was observed by European astronomers in the 17th century...
Scientists from NUST MISIS and colleagues from the University of Bayreuth, the University of Münster (Germany), the University of Chicago (U.S.), and Linköping University (Sweden) have created nitrides, a material previously considered impossible to obtain. More amazing, they have shown that the material can be obtained using a very simple method of direct synthesis. Articles about the revolutionary research results have been published in Nature Communications and Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
Nitrides are actively used in superhard coatings and electronics. Usually, the nitrogen content in these materials is low, and it is therefore difficult to get...
An international group of researchers has achieved the world’s first multi-qubit demonstration of a quantum chemistry calculation performed on a system of trapped ions, one of the leading hardware platforms in the race to develop a universal quantum computer.
The research, led by Cornelius Hempel and Thomas Monz, explores a promising pathway for developing effective ways to model chemical bonds and reactions using...
For the first-time, researchers at IMBA- Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences – develop organoids, that mimic the onset of brain cancer. This method not only sheds light on the complex biology of human brain tumors but could also pave the way for new medical applications.
Brain tumors are among the most aggressive and deadly cancers and a leading cause of cancer-related death in children and young adults.
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Event News
02.08.2018 | Materials Sciences
02.08.2018 | Materials Sciences
02.08.2018 | Life Sciences