Broad Paper Vids: Peering into the transcriptome of single cells

Leah Eisenstadt, July 2nd, 2014

The ability to monitor the function and activity of single cells in isolation using RNA sequencing enables researchers to uncover the remarkable heterogeneity of tissues. Using a new microfluidic system to prepare cells for single-cell RNA sequencing, a team of scientists at the Broad Institute and Fluidigm, led by Broad core member Aviv Regev, associate member Hongkun Park, and Fluidigm scientist Andrew May, analyzed the transcriptomes of more than 1,700 primary mouse bone-marrow-derived dendritic cells. One of the largest single-cell genomic data sets produced so far, the study revealed a subpopulation of “precocious” cells expressing antiviral genes earlier in the immune response process than other cells, and highlighted the importance of cell-to-cell communication.

In this Broad Paper Vid, first author and Broad researcher Alex Shalek tells the story behind the research, which appears in Nature. Shalek explains the power of this approach and describes how discoveries of subpopulations like the “precocious” cells are only possible by examining samples one cell at a time.


Paper cited:

Shalek, et al. Single-cell RNA-seq reveals dynamic paracrine control of cellular variation. Nature. 510, 363–369 (19 June 2014). DOI: 10.1038/nature13437