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The Evolution of Cell Types in the Cerebral Cortex

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The cerebral cortex is arguably the brain area that underwent the most profound transformations in vertebrate brain evolution. The expansion of the cerebral cortex in mammals was accompanied by an explosion of neuronal diversity. To discover general principles underlying the evolution of neuron types and circuits, we study the simple cerebral cortices of non-mammalian vertebrates. Our work on amphibians and reptiles indicates that the cerebral cortex of ancestral tetrapods was layered, with two main classes of neurons with distinct laminar positions, molecular identities, and long-range projections. In salamanders, these two layers are generated sequentially from multipotent progenitors in an outside-in sequence. We propose that in mammals new types of pyramidal neurons evolved from these two ancestral classes by diversification, through the emergence of novel gene regulatory interactions during neuronal differentiation.


Jamie Woych, Alonso Ortega Gurrola, Astrid Deryckere, Eliza C B Jaeger, Elias Gumnit, Gianluca Merello, Jiacheng Gu, Alberto Joven Araus, Nicholas D Leigh, Maximina Yun, András Simon, Maria Antonietta Tosches
Cell-type profiling in salamanders identifies innovations in vertebrate forebrain evolution
Science . 2022 Sep 2;377(6610):eabp9186. doi: 10.1126/science.abp9186. Epub 2022 Sep 2.
David Hain, Tatiana Gallego-Flores, Michaela Klinkmann, Angeles Macias, Elena Ciirdaeva, Anja Arends, Christina Thum, Georgi Tushev, Friedrich Kretschmer, Maria Antonietta Tosches, Gilles Laurent
Molecular diversity and evolution of neuron types in the amniote brain
Science . 2022 Sep 2;377(6610):eabp8202. doi: 10.1126/science.abp8202. Epub 2022 Sep 2.
Maria Antonietta Tosches, Tracy M Yamawaki, Robert K Naumann, Ariel A Jacobi, Georgi Tushev, Gilles Laurent
Evolution of pallium, hippocampus, and cortical cell types revealed by single-cell transcriptomics in reptiles
Science . 2018 May 25;360(6391):881-888. doi: 10.1126/science.aar4237. Epub 2018 May 3.


Tuesday, October 3, 2023 - 12:30pm


Conference Room: 
Billings Building – Rosedale

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Darlene White