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URPP Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning (AdaBD)

Revealing the cortical distribution of human Cajal-Retzius cells in a joint MRI + mesoSPIM reference space

Research project

There is evidence that Cajal-Retzius (CR) cells are crucial building blocks of the brain’s neuronal circuitry responsible for complex cognition. The abnormal development and distribution of these cells have been found in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. However, we still lack a complete understanding of how these cells are distributed and regulated via programmed cell death in the developing brain.

Our aim is to establish novel 3D microscopic techniques as well as high-field MRI and apply them to study this specific cell population in the brain. The project is centered on the mesoSPIM platform, and for the first time, we will attempt to image large blocks or even complete human fetal brain hemispheres.

We performed preliminary DT-MRI (9.4T) tractography on adult mouse line followed by mesoSPIM imaging, with additional MRI scanning. The combined MRI and mesoSPIM preliminary data is being analyzed using the software dspace (HDDA Platform). Further, we already successfully cleared mid-gestational human fetal brain for imaging with the mesoSPIM.

The project will provide protocols for labelling specific cell populations in human brain tissue, and also tackle image processing challenges, such as the fusion of high-resolution MRI/DTI and FLSM. The new knowledge and methods generated will allow the URPP AdaBD network to target different neuronal populations and candidate genes that are relevant for studying neuronal circuits during development and learning.

Research groups

Principal investigators: Theofanis Karayannis, Andras Jakab

PhD student: Maria Karatsoli

Platforms: mesoSPIM, HDDA