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Elife. 2019 Feb 7;8. pii: e37527. doi: 10.7554/eLife.37527.

Species-specific maturation profiles of human, chimpanzee and bonobo neural cells.

Author information

Laboratory of Genetics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, United States.
Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, United States.
Regenerative and Restorative Medicine Research Center (REMER), Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Department of Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, United States.
Laboratory of Dynamic of Neuronal Structure in Health and Disease, Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Paris (UMR S894 INSERM, University Paris Descartes), Paris, France.
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, United States.
Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, La Jolla, United States.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, United States.
Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, United States.
Contributed equally


Comparative analyses of neuronal phenotypes in closely related species can shed light on neuronal changes occurring during evolution. The study of post-mortem brains of nonhuman primates (NHPs) has been limited and often does not recapitulate important species-specific developmental hallmarks. We utilize induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to investigate the development of cortical pyramidal neurons following migration and maturation of cells grafted in the developing mouse cortex. Our results show differential migration patterns in human neural progenitor cells compared to those of chimpanzees and bonobos both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting heterochronic changes in human neurons. The strategy proposed here lays the groundwork for further comparative analyses between humans and NHPs and opens new avenues for understanding the differences in the neural underpinnings of cognition and neurological disease susceptibility between species.


chimpanzee; developmental biology; evolution; human; neurodevelopment; neuronal function; neuroprogenitor migration; non human primate

Conflict of interest statement

MM, BH, BK, DY, KV, SL, IN, RS, AD, AM, RO, JC, LM, JG, KH, CF, LR, RK, RX, GC, NH, KP, KS No competing interests declared, AM is a co-founder and has equity interest in TISMOO, a company dedicated to genetic analysis and cellular models focusing on therapeutic applications customized for autism spectrum disorder and other neurological disorders with genetic origins. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of California San Diego in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. FG Reviewing editor, eLife

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