Genetic and epigenetic coordination of cortical interneuron development

Kathryn C. Allaway, Mariano I. Gabitto, Orly Wapinski, Giuseppe Saldi, Chen Yu Wang, Rachel C. Bandler, Sherry Jingjing Wu, Richard Bonneau, Gord Fishell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the hallmarks of the cerebral cortex is the extreme diversity of interneurons1–3. The two largest subtypes of cortical interneurons, parvalbumin- and somatostatin-positive cells, are morphologically and functionally distinct in adulthood but arise from common lineages within the medial ganglionic eminence4–11. This makes them an attractive model for studying the generation of cell diversity. Here we examine how developmental changes in transcription and chromatin structure enable these cells to acquire distinct identities in the mouse cortex. Generic interneuron features are first detected upon cell cycle exit through the opening of chromatin at distal elements. By constructing cell-type-specific gene regulatory networks, we observed that parvalbumin- and somatostatin-positive cells initiate distinct programs upon settling within the cortex. We used these networks to model the differential transcriptional requirement of a shared regulator, Mef2c, and confirmed the accuracy of our predictions through experimental loss-of-function experiments. We therefore reveal how a common molecular program diverges to enable these neuronal subtypes to acquire highly specialized properties by adulthood. Our methods provide a framework for examining the emergence of cellular diversity, as well as for quantifying and predicting the effect of candidate genes on cell-type-specific development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-697
Number of pages5
Issue number7878
StatePublished - Sep 30 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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