We aim to address the key questions for our understanding of brain function “how such complex organ as the brain is build up during development?” and “what goes wrong in neurodevelopmental disorders?”.
We study mechanisms that are responsible for neuronal specification, positioning and circuit formation during brain development, and how these mechanisms are impaired in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism and others. In particular, we investigate how genetics and environment shape brain development and determine the vulnerability of neurons to developmental disorders.
- Response to genetic and environmental stimuli determines the vulnerability of neurons to developmental disorders.
- The vulnerability of neurons is highly dependent on developmental period; thus, there are critical periods of development, when different types of neurons are particularly vulnerable, and these periods differ for different neuronal types
- Neuronal circuits and gene expression that contribute to epilepsy and schizophrenia in human brain cortex.
- Identification of a pivotal metabolic gene to pair energy production and energy demand in fast-spiking interneurons (the key neurons implemented in neurodevelopmental disorders)
- Specific metabolism of fast-spiking interneurons programs their neuronal maturation, and when impaired leads to phenotype associated with neurodevelopmental disorders
Normal brain development
- Neuronal specification in normal brain.
- Maturation of cortical interneurons.
- Evo-Devo: Evolution of neuronal subtypes and acquisition of function-specific properties.
- Mechanisms of epileptogenesis in human tissue.
- Functional characterization of human neurons in epileptic tissue
- Schizophrenia and Autism:
- Effects of maternal viral infections and inflammation on fetal brain development.
- Effects of schizophrenia/autism-associated genetic mutations on fetal brain development.
- Formation of schizophrenia/autism-contributing neuronal circuits.
- Metabolic impairment in schizophrenia/autism.
Single Cell Omics and Spatial Analysis
We are working to understand brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders at a molecular scale, and how various molecular perturbations alter the brain function. Our research extends from studying disease model rodent brains to human patient brain tissues. We apply single-cell and single-nucleus omics as well as spatial omics methods to profile molecular and spatial alterations in the tissue. Our approach provides a comprehensive insight into the alterations underlying impaired brain function in neurodevelopmental disorders.
- High-throughput profiling: We use the 10X Genomics Chromium platform. This droplet-based method enables profiling of several thousand of cells or nuclei in a parallel manner and thus permits the exploration of the cellular composition of a given tissue.
- High-resolution profiling: We use Smart-seq2 for high-resolution profiling of single-cells or nuclei. This method provides greater sequencing depth and thus potentially allows detecting subtle molecular alterations in the normal and disordered brain.
- Spatial profiling: We implement spatial analysis based on 10X Genomics Chromium platform allowing us to identify changes in cell composition and spatial location of molecular changes in disordered brains.
Following single-cell RNA sequencing, downstream analysis involves
Identification of differentially expressed genes and pathways
Clustering of the cells according to their gene expression
Visualisation and interactive exploration of the data
Characterisation of the disease-related changes
Integration of several modalities of single cell data (e.g. transcriptome and epigenome), integration with genetics, with spatial data etc.
Tools we commonly use for these tasks include the packages Cacoa, Conos, Pagoda 2, velocyto, scanpy and paga, as well as pipelines as dropest, CellRanger, stereoscope and CellPhoneDB.
Pfisterer #, Demharter S.#, Petukhov V.#, Meichsner J.#, Thompson J., Batiuk M., Asenjo Martinez A., Vasistha N., Thakur A., Mikkelsen J., Adorjan I., Pinborg L., Pers T., von Engelhardt J., Kharchenko P., Khodosevich K. (2020) Identification of epilepsy-associated neuronal subtypes and gene expression underlying epileptogenesis. Nat Commun, 11(1):1-19
Vasistha N.#, Pardo-Navarro M.#, Gasthaus J., Weijers D., Müller M., García-González D., Malwade S., Korshunova I., Pfisterer U., von Engelhardt J., Hougaard K., Khodosevich K. (2019) Maternal inflammation has a profound effect on cortical interneuron development in a stage and subtype-specific manner. Mol Psychiatry, 10.1038/s41380-019-0539-5
Sanz Morello B., Pfisterer U., Hansen N., Demharter S., Thakur A., Fujii K., Levitskiy S., Montalant A., Korshunova I., Mammen P., Kamenski P., Noguchi S., Aldana Garcia B., Hougaard K., Perrier J., Khodosevich K. (2020) Unique isoform in oxidative phosphorylation machinery supports the function of fast-spiking neurons. EMBO J, 39(18):e105759
Korshunova I.#, Rhein S.# García-González D., Stölting I., Pfisterer U., Barta A. Dmytriyeva O., Kirkeby A., Schwaninger M., Khodosevich K. (2020) Genetic modification increases the survival and the neuroregenerative properties of transplanted neural stem cells. JCI Insight, 5(4). pii: 126268.
Barkas N.#, Petukhov V.#, Nikolaeva D., Lozinsky Y., Demharter S., Khodosevich K., Kharchenko PV. (2019). Joint analysis of heterogeneous single-cell RNA-seq dataset collections. Nat Methods, 2019 Jul 15. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0466-z.
In the media
New video: How to build a healthy brain.
07.10.2020 by Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
04.08.2020 by BRIC
30.10.2019 by Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences