Three-dimensional brain organoids have emerged as a valuable model system for studies of human brain development and pathology. Here we establish a midbrain organoid culture system to study the developmental trajectory from pluripotent stem cells to mature dopamine neurons. Using single cell RNA sequencing, we identify the presence of three molecularly distinct subtypes of human dopamine neurons with high similarity to those in developing and adult human midbrain. However, despite significant advancements in the field, the use of brain organoids can be limited by issues of reproducibility and incomplete maturation which was also observed in this study. We therefore designed bioengineered ventral midbrain organoids supported by recombinant spider-silk microfibers functionalized with full-length human laminin. We show that silk organoids reproduce key molecular aspects of dopamine neurogenesis and reduce inter-organoid variability in terms of cell type composition and dopamine neuron formation.
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