A paper „Droplet Barcoding for Single-Cell Transcriptomics Applied to Embryonic Stem Cells", describing the findings of VU Biotechnology Institute scientist's Linas Mazutis and his colleagues Ilke Akartuna (Harvard University) and Allon Klein (Harvard Medical School), has been published in the journal "Cell".
The authors have developed a high-throughput droplet-microfluidics approach for barcoding the RNA from thousands of individual cells for subsequent analysis by next-generation sequencing. Cells are encapsulated into nanoliter volume water droplets along with DNA-barcoding beads. The bead barcodes are attached to the genes (transcripts) in each cell, so that scientists can sequence the genes all in one batch and still trace each gene back to the cell it came from. With such data one might track heterogeneous cell sub-populations, and infer regulatory relationships between genes and pathways. The method is highly scalable and can be applied to barcode tens of thousands of cells, shows surprisingly low noise profile and is readily adaptable to other sequencing-based assays. Scientists analysed mouse embryonic stem cells, revealing in detail the population structure and the heterogeneous onset of differentiation after leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) withdrawal. The reproducibility of these high-throughput single-cell data allowed the researchers to deconstruct cell populations and infer gene expression relationships.
Dr Linas Mazutis has been invited by "Cell" to share his experience in this highly multidisciplinary project – "The result of our long lasting efforts is an excellent example of a teamwork and our reported technology has already been taken over for further development and application by several research groups. I assume we would not achieve such results if working separately. The technology has been already adopted by a few groups, which is delightful for us to see as it starts to be appreciated in the single-cell sequencing field"
"Cell" publishes findings of exceptional significance in any area of experimental biology, including but not limited to cell biology, molecular biology, neuroscience, immunology, virology and microbiology, cancer, human genetics, systems biology and therapeutics. The basic criterion for considering papers is whether the results provide significant conceptual advances into, or raise provocative questions and hypotheses regarding an interesting and important biological question.