Engineering brain assembloids to interrogate human neural circuits

Yuki Miura, Min Yin Li, Omer Revah, Se Jin Yoon, Genta Narazaki, Sergiu P. Pașca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

The development of neural circuits involves wiring of neurons locally following their generation and migration, as well as establishing long-distance connections between brain regions. Studying these developmental processes in the human nervous system remains difficult because of limited access to tissue that can be maintained as functional over time in vitro. We have previously developed a method to convert human pluripotent stem cells into brain region–specific organoids that can be fused and integrated to form assembloids and study neuronal migration. In contrast to approaches that mix cell lineages in 2D cultures or engineer microchips, assembloids leverage self-organization to enable complex cell–cell interactions, circuit formation and maturation in long-term cultures. In this protocol, we describe approaches to model long-range neuronal connectivity in human brain assembloids. We present how to generate 3D spheroids resembling specific domains of the nervous system and then how to integrate them physically to allow axonal projections and synaptic assembly. In addition, we describe a series of assays including viral labeling and retrograde tracing, 3D live imaging of axon projection and optogenetics combined with calcium imaging and electrophysiological recordings to probe and manipulate the circuits in assembloids. The assays take 3–4 months to complete and require expertise in stem cell culture, imaging and electrophysiology. We anticipate that these approaches will be useful in deciphering human-specific aspects of neural circuit assembly and in modeling neurodevelopmental disorders with patient-derived cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-35
Number of pages21
JournalNature Protocols
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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