The art of differentiating cells

Image of two "mini brains". The one on the left is younger and is plw of orange lobes and the one on the right is more mature, has an amorphous shape and is orange and green.

Brain organoids developed from human stem cells with reporter genes for Sox2 in orange and Tuj1 in green. Credit: Sílvila Beltramone, CRG.

In the 21st century, when the scientific community is able to sequence the genomes of thousands of species and use algorithms to understand protein folding, some experiments still call for skill. In order to generate organoids from stem cells, one has to follow the protocol, but also be careful treating the cells because things can get complicated!

In this image by Sílvia Beltramone of the Tissue Engineering Unit of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), we can see “mini brains” made from a modified human stem cell line. In these cells, the Sox2 protein marks neuronal progenitors in orange, while the Tuj1 protein seen in green, is present in mature neurons.

Thus, we can see that in young organoids (left), the neuroepithelium begins to protrude with progenitor cells (orange). In contrast, as organoids mature (right), cortical lobes begin to develop combining mature neurons (green) and progenitor cells (orange) to keep growing.

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