In Science this week, a team led by researchers from Harvard University reported new details about the genetic basis of how the folds on the surface of the human brain, known as cortical convolutions, develop. Studying the genomes of five individuals from three different families with abnormally thins and smooth cortical convolutions in the area of the brain that controls language, the scientists found that all had the same mutation on a regulatory element that influences the expression of a gene known as GRP56. Further analysis showed that loss of GRP56 inhibited the production of neuroprogenitor cells in a certain brain region, while its overexpression boosted their production — adding another mutation to the list of those known to cause abnormal cortical folding.
Also in Science, a investigators from the Weizmann Institute detail a new automated approach for massively parallel single-cell RNA sequencing for analyzing in vivo transcriptional states in thousands of single cells. When combined with unsupervised classification algorithms, the method allows for cellular decomposition of complex tissues into cell types.