Primate brain cell atlas sheds light on complex neural circuits

A team of nearly 100 dedicated scientists recently conducted groundbreaking research by mapping the cell-type taxonomy in the macaque cortex. This pioneering study sheds light on the complex neural circuits supporting advanced cognition and behavior in primates, making it a crucial step in understanding brain disorders and human brain function.

Using their self-developed spatial transcriptome sequencing technology, Stereo-seq, and snRNA-seq technology, the researchers delved into the molecular and cellular basis of the macaque cortex. With over six billion , the macaque brain has hundreds of cell types distributed across various brain regions, making it an ideal model for studying primate brains, closely related to humans.

The team combined large-scale single-cell transcriptome analysis, resulting in a comprehensive three-dimensional single-cell atlas of the entire cortex of the crab-eating macaque. This atlas serves as a guide for understanding cell-type distribution and regional specificity within the cortex.

Glutamatergic neurons, GABAergic neurons, and non-neuronal cells showed distinct cortical and regional distribution patterns. Notably, there was a correlation between cell-type composition and the hierarchical organization of brain regions, particularly in the visual and somatosensory systems.

The study also revealed unique glutamatergic neuron cells specific to primates, mainly found in layer 4 of the cortex. These cells highly express genes associated with human diseases, providing valuable insights into potential targets for brain-related disorders.

The researchers made their data publicly available, providing an essential resource for future investigations. The dataset is accessible at

Moving forward, the team will continue to focus on brain disease mechanisms, brain cell and structural , and the molecular underpinnings of brain function. Their work has opened up exciting possibilities for further exploration and understanding of the complexities of the primate brain.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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