Our goal is to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the evolutionary expansion of the neocortex, specifically the increase in the number of cortical neurons generated during embryonic/fetal development. Ultimately, we aim at identifying the genomic changes that are responsible for the increase in neuron number in the human neocortex as compared to other primates.
Towards this goal, we take the following approaches.
1. We characterize neural stem and progenitor cells (SPCs) that generate neurons in the developing neocortex of a variety of species (mouse, ferret, marmoset, human), and determine their lineage. Using this knowledge, we study the differences across mammals developing a lissencephalic versus gyrencephalic neocortex, in order to obtain insight into neocortex evolution.
2. We investigate specific cell biological features of the various cortical SPCs, including their cell polarity and organization and dynamics of intracellular organelles, in order to obtain clues as to their differential proliferative potential.
3. We study the cell cycle and cell division of cortical SPCs.
4. We explore the role of genes, mutations in which cause microcephaly, and develop novel technology to functionally search for, and test, candidate genes for neocortex expansion.
5. We analyze the transcriptomes of cortical germinal zones and specific SPC subpopulations, in order to identify, and then functionally test, candidate genes for neocortex expansion.
Documentary of the MDR "Accidentally intelligent? The small step to a big brain” from June 2020, featuring the Wieland B. Huttner and Michael Heide and their research. ENGLISH version
Documentary of the MDR "Accidentally intelligent? The small step to a big brain” from June 2020, featuring the Wieland B. Huttner and Michael Heide and their research. GERMAN version
Anneline Pinson, Lei Xing, Takashi Namba, Nereo Kalebic, Jula Peters, Christina Eugster Oegema, Sofia Traikov, Katrin Reppe, Stephan Riesenberg, Tomislav Maricic, Razvan Derihaci, Pauline Wimberger, Svante Pääbo, Wieland B Huttner
Human TKTL1 implies greater neurogenesis in frontal neocortex of modern humans than Neandertals.
Science. 09. September 2022, Vol 377, Issue 6611
free access article
Michael Heide, Christiane Haffner, Ayako Y Murayama, Yoko Kurotaki, Haruka Shinohara, Hideyuki Okano, Erika Sasaki, Wieland Huttner
Human-specific ARHGAP11B increases size and folding of primate neocortex in the fetal marmoset.
Science, 369(6503) 546-550 (2020)
Abstract | Reprint | Full text