A Combinatorial Single-cell Approach to Characterize the Molecular and Immunophenotypic Heterogeneity of Human Stem and Progenitor Populations

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Immunophenotypic characterization and molecular analysis have long been used to delineate heterogeneity and define distinct cell populations. FACS is inherently a single-cell assay, however prior to molecular analysis, the target cells are often prospectively isolated in bulk, thereby losing single-cell resolution. Single-cell gene expression analysis provides a means to understand molecular differences between individual cells in heterogeneous cell populations. In bulk cell analysis an overrepresentation of a distinct cell type results in biases and occlusions of signals from rare cells with biological importance. By utilizing FACS index sorting coupled to single-cell gene expression analysis, populations can be investigated without the loss of single-cell resolution while cells with intermediate cell surface marker expression are also captured, enabling evaluation of the relevance of continuous surface marker expression. Here, we describe an approach that combines single-cell reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and FACS index sorting to simultaneously characterize the molecular and immunophenotypic heterogeneity within cell populations. In contrast to single-cell RNA sequencing methods, the use of qPCR with specific target amplification allows for robust measurements of low-abundance transcripts with fewer dropouts, while it is not confounded by issues related to cell-to-cell variations in read depth. Moreover, by directly index-sorting single-cells into lysis buffer this method, allows for cDNA synthesis and specific target pre-amplification to be performed in one step as well as for correlation of subsequently derived molecular signatures with cell surface marker expression. The described approach has been developed to investigate hematopoietic single-cells, but have also been used successfully on other cell types. In conclusion, the approach described herein allows for sensitive measurement of mRNA expression for a panel of pre-selected genes with the possibility to develop protocols for subsequent prospective isolation of molecularly distinct subpopulations.

TidskriftJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
StatusPublished - 2018 okt. 25

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Cell- och molekylärbiologi


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