Generating a precise cellular and molecular cartography of the human embryo is essential to our understanding of the mechanisms of organogenesis in normal and pathological conditions. Here, we have combined whole-mount immunostaining, 3DISCO clearing, and light-sheet imaging to start building a 3D cellular map of the human development during the first trimester of gestation. We provide high-resolution 3D images of the developing peripheral nervous, muscular, vascular, cardiopulmonary, and urogenital systems. We found that the adult-like pattern of skin innervation is established before the end of the first trimester, showing important intra- and inter-individual variations in nerve branches. We also present evidence for a differential vascularization of the male and female genital tracts concomitant with sex determination. This work paves the way for a cellular and molecular reference atlas of human cells, which will be of paramount importance to understanding human development in health and disease. PAPERCLIP.
The preBötzinger Complex (preBötC) contains neural microcircuitry essential for normal respiratory rhythm generation in rodents. A subpopulation of preBötC neurons expresses somatostatin, a neuropeptide with a modulatory action on breathing. Acute silencing of a subpopulation of preBötC neurons transfected by a virus driving protein expression under the somatostatin promoter results in persistent apnea in awake adult rats. Given the profound effect of silencing these neurons, their projections are of interest. We used an adeno-associated virus to overexpress enhanced green fluorescent protein driven by the somatostatin promoter in preBötC neurons to label their axons and terminal fields. These neurons send brainstem projections to: 1) contralateral preBötC; 2) ipsi- and contralateral Bötzinger Complex; 3) ventral respiratory column caudal to preBötC; 4) parafacial respiratory group/retrotrapezoid nucleus; 5) parahypoglossal nucleus/nucleus of the solitary tract; 6) parabrachial/Kölliker-Fuse nuclei; and 7) periaqueductal gray. We did not find major projections to either cerebellum or spinal cord. We conclude that there are widespread projections from preBötC somatostatin-expressing neurons specifically targeted to brainstem regions implicated in control of breathing, and provide a network basis for the profound effects and the essential role of the preBötC in breathing.