Understanding spinal cord development is essential to elucidate how motor behavior is controlled and how disorders arise. Little is known, however, about developmental landmarks and cell diversity in humans. Here we profiled the midgestation human spinal cord at single cell resolution and found remarkable diversity within cell types. Specifically, glia showed diversity related to positional identity along the dorso-ventral and rostro-caudal axes, while astrocytes also displayed anatomical differences that based on their gene expression could be linked to function. In addition, we discovered a surprisingly early specification of motor neuron identity suggestive of an acceleration in the timing of developmental processes in the human spinal cord compared to rodents. Together with mapping of disease-related genes, this landscape of the developing human spinal cord opens new avenues for interrogating the cellular basis of motor control and related disorders in humans.

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Integrated scRNA and snRNA explorer

Explore the scRNA and snRNA data in the cellxgene browser. The session includes cell anotation and gene counts.


Integrated Motor Neuron Subcluster explorer

Explore the motor neuron data in the cellxgene browser. The session includes cell anotation and gene counts.


Data availability

Links to raw data archives and related resources.

Repository Reference
GEO Super-series: GSE188516


If you use this resource in your research, please cite:

Andersen*, J., Thom*, N., Shadrach, J. L., Chen, X., Amin, N. D., Yoon, S., Greenleaf, W. J., Müller, F., Pasca, A. M., Kaltschmidt, J., & Pasca#, S. P. (2021). Transcriptional landscape of human spinal cord cell type diversity at midgestation. bioRxiv. DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.29.473693 (preprint)

© 2021; Pasca lab at Stanford University; Site created by Nicholas Thom and Fabian Müller