Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Single-cell analysis holds promise for stem cell and cancer research

Date:
August 7, 2014
Source:
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Summary:
Researchers have identified cells’ unique features within the developing human brain, using the latest technologies for analyzing gene activity in individual cells, and have demonstrated that large-scale cell surveys can be done much more efficiently and cheaply than was previously thought possible.

UC San Francisco researchers have identified cells' unique features within the developing human brain, using the latest technologies for analyzing gene activity in individual cells, and have demonstrated that large-scale cell surveys can be done much more efficiently and cheaply than was previously thought possible.

"We have identified novel molecular features in diverse cell types using a new strategy of analyzing hundreds of cells individually," said Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. "We expect to use this approach to help us better understand how the complexity of the human cortex arises from cells that are spun off through cell division from stem cells in the germinal region of the brain."

The research team used technology focused on a "microfluidic" device in which individual cells are captured and flow into nano-scale chambers, where they efficiently and accurately undergo the chemical reactions needed for DNA sequencing. The research showed that the number of reading steps needed to identify and spell out unique sequences and to successfully identify cell types is 100 times fewer than had previously been assumed. The technology, developed by Fluidigm Corporation, can be used to individually process 96 cells simultaneously.

"The routine capture of single cells and accurate sampling of their molecular features now is possible," said Alex Pollen, PhD, who along with fellow Kriegstein-lab postdoctoral fellow Tomasz Nowakowski, PhD, conducted the key experiments, in which they analyzed the activation of genes in 301 cells from across the developing human brain. Their results were published online August 3 in Nature Biotechnology.

Kriegstein said the identification of hundreds of novel biomarkers for diverse cell types will improve scientists' understanding of the emergence of specialized neuronal subtypes. Ultimately, the combination of this new method of focusing on gene activity in single cells with other single-cell techniques involving microscopic imaging is likely to reveal the origins of developmental disorders of the brain, he added.

The process could shed light on several brain disorders, including lissencephaly, in which the folds in the brain's cortex fail to develop, as well as maladies diagnosed later in development, such as autism and schizophrenia, Kriegstein said.

According to the Nature Biotechnology study co-authors, this strategy of analyzing molecules in single cells is likely to find favor not only among researchers who explore how specialized cells arise at specific times and locations within the developing organism, but also among those who monitor cell characteristics in stem cells engineered for tissue replacement, and those who probe the diversity of cells within tumors to identify those responsible for survival and spread of cancerous cells.

No matter how pure, in any unprocessed biological sample there are a variety of cells representing various tissue types. Researchers have been sequencing the combined genetic material within these samples. To study which genes are active and which are dormant, they use the brute repetition of sequencing steps to capture an adequate number of messenger RNA sequences, which are transcribed from switched-on genes. However, it is difficult to conclude from mixed tissue samples which genes are expressed by particular cell types.

Pollen and Nowakowski showed that fewer steps -- and less time and money -- are needed to distinguish different cell types through single-cell analysis than had previously been thought.

"We are studying an ecosystem of different, but related, cell types in the brain," Pollen said. "We are breaking that community down into the different populations of cells with the goal of understanding their functional parts and components so we can accurately predict how they will develop."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alex A Pollen, Tomasz J Nowakowski, Joe Shuga, Xiaohui Wang, Anne A Leyrat, Jan H Lui, Nianzhen Li, Lukasz Szpankowski, Brian Fowler, Peilin Chen, Naveen Ramalingam, Gang Sun, Myo Thu, Michael Norris, Ronald Lebofsky, Dominique Toppani, Darnell W Kemp, Michael Wong, Barry Clerkson, Brittnee N Jones, Shiquan Wu, Lawrence Knutsson, Beatriz Alvarado, Jing Wang, Lesley S Weaver, Andrew P May, Robert C Jones, Marc A Unger, Arnold R Kriegstein, Jay A A West. Low-coverage single-cell mRNA sequencing reveals cellular heterogeneity and activated signaling pathways in developing cerebral cortex. Nature Biotechnology, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2967

Cite This Page:

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Single-cell analysis holds promise for stem cell and cancer research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140807104658.htm>.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). (2014, August 7). Single-cell analysis holds promise for stem cell and cancer research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140807104658.htm
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Single-cell analysis holds promise for stem cell and cancer research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140807104658.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins