Rxivist combines preprints from bioRxiv with data from Twitter to help you find the papers being discussed in your field. Currently indexing 70,836 bioRxiv papers from 309,131 authors.
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in category systems biology
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32,982 downloads systems biology
We critically revisit the ″common knowledge″ that bacteria outnumber human cells by a ratio of at least 10:1 in the human body. We found the total number of bacteria in the ″reference man″ to be 3.9·1013, with an uncertainty (SEM) of 25%, and a variation over the population (CV) of 52%. For human cells we identify the dominant role of the hematopoietic lineage to the total count of body cells (≈90%), and revise past estimates to reach a total of 3.0·1013 human cells in the 70 kg ″reference man″ with 2% uncertainty and 14% CV. Our analysis updates the widely-cited 10:1 ratio, showing that the number of bacteria in our bodies is actually of the same order as the number of human cells. Indeed, the numbers are similar enough that each defecation event may flip the ratio to favor human cells over bacteria.
19,349 downloads systems biology
A continuing enigma in the study of biological systems is what happens to highly ordered structures, far from equilibrium, when their regulatory systems suddenly become disabled. In life, genetic and epigenetic networks precisely coordinate the expression of genes -- but in death, it is not known if gene expression diminishes gradually or abruptly stops or if specific genes are involved. We investigated the unwinding of the clock by identifying upregulated genes, assessing their functions, and comparing their transcriptional profiles through postmortem time in two species, mouse and zebrafish. We found transcriptional abundance profiles of 1,063 genes were significantly changed after death of healthy adult animals in a time series spanning from life to 48 or 96 h postmortem. Ordination plots revealed non-random patterns in profiles by time. While most thanatotranscriptome (thanatos-, Greek defn. death) transcript levels increased within 0.5 h postmortem, some increased only at 24 and 48 h. Functional characterization of the most abundant transcripts revealed the following categories: stress, immunity, inflammation, apoptosis, transport, development, epigenetic regulation, and cancer. The increase of transcript abundance was presumably due to thermodynamic and kinetic controls encountered such as the activation of epigenetic modification genes responsible for unraveling the nucleosomes, which enabled transcription of previously silenced genes (e.g., development genes). The fact that new molecules were synthesized at 48 to 96 h postmortem suggests sufficient energy and resources to maintain self-organizing processes. A step-wise shutdown occurs in organismal death that is manifested by the apparent upregulation of genes with various abundance maxima and durations. The results are of significance to transplantology and molecular biology.
11,719 downloads systems biology
Liquid neural networks (or ''liquid brains'') are a widespread class of cognitive living networks characterised by a common feature: the agents (ants or immune cells, for example) move in space. Thus, no fixed, long-term agent-agent connections are maintained, in contrast with standard neural systems. How is this class of systems capable of displaying cognitive abilities, from learning to decision-making? In this paper, the collective dynamics, memory and learning properties of liquid brains is explored under the perspective of statistical physics. Using a comparative approach, we review the generic properties of three large classes of systems, namely: standard neural networks (''solid brains''), ant colonies and the immune system. It is shown that, despite their intrinsic physical differences, these systems share key properties with standard neural systems in terms of formal descriptions, but strongly depart in other ways. On one hand, the attractors found in liquid brains are not always based on connection weights but instead on population abundances. However, some liquid systems use fluctuations in ways similar to those found in cortical networks, suggesting a relevant role of criticality as a way of rapidly reacting to external signals.
6,716 downloads systems biology
A highly multiplexed cytometric imaging approach, termed CO-Detection by indEXing (CODEX), is used here to create multiplexed datasets of normal and lupus (MRL/lpr) murine spleens. CODEX iteratively visualizes antibody binding events using DNA barcodes, fluorescent dNTP analogs, and an in-situ polymerization-based indexing procedure. An algorithmic pipeline for single-cell antigen quantification in tightly packed tissues was developed and used to overlay well-known morphological features with de novo characterization of lymphoid tissue architecture at a single-cell and cellular neighborhood levels. We observed an unexpected, profound impact of the cellular neighborhood on the expression of protein receptors on immune cells. By comparing normal murine spleen to spleens from animals with systemic autoimmune disease (MRL/lpr), extensive and previously uncharacterized splenic cell interaction dynamics in the healthy versus diseased state was observed. The fidelity of multiplexed spatial cytometry demonstrated here allows for quantitative systemic characterization of tissue architecture in normal and clinically aberrant samples.
6,324 downloads systems biology
Gene products or pathways that are aberrantly activated in cancer but not in normal tissue hold great promises for being effective and safe anticancer therapeutic targets. Many targeted drugs have entered clinical trials but so far showed limited efficacy mostly due to variability in treatment responses and often rapidly emerging resistance. Towards more effective treatment options, we will critically need multi-targeted drugs or drug combinations, which selectively inhibit the cancer cells and block distinct escape mechanisms for the cells to become resistant. Functional profiling of drug combinations requires careful experimental design and robust data analysis approaches. At the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), we have developed an experimental-computational pipeline for high-throughput screening of drug combination effects in cancer cells. The integration of automated screening techniques with advanced synergy scoring tools allows for efficient and reliable detection of synergistic drug interactions within a specific window of concentrations, hence accelerating the identification of potential drug combinations for further confirmatory studies.
5,579 downloads systems biology
Paul A. Reyfman, James M. Walter, Nikita Joshi, Kishore R. Anekalla, Alexandra C. McQuattie-Pimentel, Stephen Chiu, Ramiro Fernandez, Mahzad Akbarpour, Ching-I Chen, Ziyou Ren, Rohan Verma, Hiam Abdala-Valencia, Kiwon Nam, Monica Chi, SeungHye Han, Francisco J. Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Saul Soberanes, Satoshi Watanabe, Kinola J.N. Williams, Annette S. Flozak, Trevor T. Nicholson, Vince K. Morgan, Cara L. Hrusch, Robert D. Guzy, Catherine A. Bonham, Anne I. Sperling, Remzi Bag, Robert B. Hamanaka, Gökhan M. Mutlu, Anjana V. Yeldandi, Stacy A. Marshall, Ali Shilatifard, Luis A.N. Amaral, Harris Perlman, Jacob I. Sznajder, Deborah R. Winter, Monique Hinchcliff, A. Christine Argento, Colin T. Gillespie, Jane D’Amico Dematte, Manu Jain, Benjamin D. Singer, Karen M. Ridge, Cara J. Gottardi, Anna P. Lam, Ankit Bharat, Sangeeta M. Bhorade, G.R. Scott Budinger, Alexander V. Misharin
Pulmonary fibrosis is a devastating disorder that results in the progressive replacement of normal lung tissue with fibrotic scar. Available therapies slow disease progression, but most patients go on to die or require lung transplantation. Single-cell RNA-seq is a powerful tool that can reveal cellular identity via analysis of the transcriptome, but its ability to provide biologically or clinically meaningful insights in a disease context is largely unexplored. Accordingly, we performed single-cell RNA-seq on lung tissue obtained from eight transplant donors and eight recipients with pulmonary fibrosis and one bronchoscopic cryobiospy sample. Integrated single-cell transcriptomic analysis of donors and patients with pulmonary fibrosis identified the emergence of distinct populations of epithelial cells and macrophages that were common to all patients with lung fibrosis. Analysis of transcripts in the Wnt pathway suggested that within the same cell type, Wnt secretion and response are restricted to distinct non-overlapping cells, which was confirmed using in situ RNA hybridization. Single-cell RNA-seq revealed heterogeneity within alveolar macrophages from individual patients, which was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. These results support the feasibility of discovery-based approaches applying next generation sequencing technologies to clinically obtained samples with a goal of developing personalized therapies.
4,857 downloads systems biology
Understanding the regulation and structure of ribosomes is essential to understanding protein synthesis and its dysregulation in disease. While ribosomes are believed to have a fixed stoichiometry among their core ribosomal proteins (RPs), some experiments suggest a more variable composition. Testing such variability requires direct and precise quantification of RPs. We used mass-spectrometry to directly quantify RPs across monosomes and polysomes of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC) and budding yeast. Our data show that the stoichiometry among core RPs in wild-type yeast cells and ESC depends both on the growth conditions and on the number of ribosomes bound per mRNA. Furthermore, we find that the fitness of cells with a deleted RP-gene is inversely proportional to the enrichment of the corresponding RP in polysomes. Together, our findings support the existence of ribosomes with distinct protein composition and physiological function.
4,816 downloads systems biology
A key goal of developmental biology is to understand how a single cell transforms into a full-grown organism consisting of many cells. Although impressive progress has been made in lineage tracing using imaging approaches, analysis of vertebrate lineage trees has mostly been limited to relatively small subsets of cells. Here we present scartrace, a strategy for massively parallel clonal analysis based on Cas9 induced genetic scars in the zebrafish.
4,707 downloads systems biology
A challenge in stem cell biology is to associate molecular differences among progenitor cells with their capacity to generate mature cell types. Though the development of single cell assays allows for the capture of progenitor cell states in great detail, these assays cannot definitively link those molecular states to their long-term fate. Here, we use expressed DNA barcodes to clonally trace single cell transcriptomes dynamically during differentiation and apply this approach to the study of hematopoiesis. Our analysis identifies functional boundaries of cell potential early in the hematopoietic hierarchy and locates them on a continuous transcriptional landscape. Additionally, we find that the monocyte lineage differentiates through two distinct transcriptional and clonal routes, leaving a persistent imprint on mature cells. Finally, we use our approach to reflect on current methods of dynamics inference from single-cell snapshots. We find that for in vitro hematopoiesis, published fate prediction algorithms do not detect lineage priming in early progenitors, and provide evidence that there are hidden properties that influence cell fate but are not detectable with current single-cell sequencing methods.
4,693 downloads systems biology
Katja Luck, Dae-Kyum Kim, Luke Lambourne, Kerstin Spirohn, Bridget E Begg, Wenting Bian, Ruth Brignall, Tiziana Cafarelli, Francisco J Campos-Laborie, Benoit Charloteaux, Dongsic Choi, Atina G. Cote, Meaghan Daley, Steven Deimling, Alice Desbuleux, Amélie Dricot, Marinella Gebbia, Madeleine F Hardy, Nishka Kishore, Jennifer J Knapp, István A. Kovács, Irma Lemmens, Miles W Mee, Joseph C. Mellor, Carl Pollis, Carles Pons, Aaron D Richardson, Sadie Schlabach, Bridget Teeking, Anupama Yadav, Mariana Babor, Dawit Balcha, Omer Basha, Christian Bowman-Colin, Suet-Feung Chin, Soon Gang Choi, Claudia Colabella, Georges Coppin, Cassandra D’Amata, David De Ridder, Steffi De Rouck, Miquel Duran-Frigola, Hanane Ennajdaoui, Florian Goebels, Liana Goehring, Anjali Gopal, Ghazal Haddad, Elodie Hatchi, Mohamed Helmy, Yves Jacob, Yoseph Kassa, Serena Landini, Roujia Li, Natascha van Lieshout, Andrew MacWilliams, Dylan Markey, Joseph N Paulson, Sudharshan Rangarajan, John Rasla, Ashyad Rayhan, Thomas Rolland, Adriana San-Miguel, Yun Shen, Dayag Sheykhkarimli, Gloria M. Sheynkman, Eyal Simonovsky, Murat Taşan, Alexander Tejeda, Jean-Claude Twizere, Yang Wang, Robert J. Weatheritt, Jochen Weile, Yu Xia, Xinping Yang, Esti Yeger-Lotem, Quan Zhong, Patrick Aloy, Gary D Bader, Javier De Las Rivas, Suzanne Gaudet, Tong Hao, Janusz Rak, Jan Tavernier, Vincent Tropepe, David E. Hill, Marc Vidal, Frederick P. Roth, Michael A. Calderwood
Global insights into cellular organization and function require comprehensive understanding of interactome networks. Similar to how a reference genome sequence revolutionized human genetics, a reference map of the human interactome network is critical to fully understand genotype-phenotype relationships. Here we present the first human "all-by-all" binary reference interactome map, or "HuRI". With ~53,000 high-quality protein-protein interactions (PPIs), HuRI is approximately four times larger than the information curated from small-scale studies available in the literature. Integrating HuRI with genome, transcriptome and proteome data enables the study of cellular function within essentially any physiological or pathological cellular context. We demonstrate the use of HuRI in identifying specific subcellular roles of PPIs and protein function modulation via splicing during brain development. Inferred tissue-specific networks reveal general principles for the formation of cellular context-specific functions and elucidate potential molecular mechanisms underlying tissue-specific phenotypes of Mendelian diseases. HuRI thus represents an unprecedented, systematic reference linking genomic variation to phenotypic outcomes.
4,633 downloads systems biology
The fate and physiology of individual cells are controlled by protein interactions. Yet, our ability to quantitatively analyze proteins in single cells has remained limited. To overcome this barrier, we developed SCoPE2. It lowers cost and hands-on time by introducing automated and miniaturized sample preparation while substantially increasing quantitative accuracy. These advances enabled us to analyze the emergence of cellular heterogeneity as homogeneous monocytes differentiated into macrophage-like cells in the absence of polarizing cytokines. SCoPE2 quantified over 2,700 proteins in 1,018 single monocytes and macrophages in ten days of instrument time, and the quantified proteins allowed us to discern single cells by cell type. Furthermore, the data uncovered a continuous gradient of proteome states for the macrophage-like cells, suggesting that macrophage heterogeneity may emerge even in the absence of polarizing cytokines. Parallel measurements of transcripts by 10x Genomics scRNA-seq suggest that SCoPE2 samples 20-fold more copies per gene, thus supporting quantification with improved count statistics. Joint analysis of the data indicated that most genes had similar responses at the protein and RNA levels, though the responses of hundreds of genes differed. Our methodology lays the foundation for automated and quantitative single-cell analysis of proteins by mass-spectrometry. ![Figure]</img> : pending:yes
4,401 downloads systems biology
DNA double-strand breaks are lesions that form during metabolism, DNA replication and exposure to mutagens. When a double-strand break occurs one of a number of repair mechanisms is recruited, all of which have differing propensities for mutational events. Despite DNA repair being of crucial importance, the relative contribution of these mechanisms and their regulatory interactions remain to be fully elucidated. Understanding these mutational processes will have a profound impact on our knowledge of genomic instability, with implications across health, disease and evolution. Here we present a new method to model the combined activation of non-homologous end joining, single strand annealing and alternative end joining, following exposure to ionizing radiation. We use Bayesian statistics to integrate eight biological data sets of double-strand break repair curves under varying genetic knockouts and confirm that our model is predictive by re-simulating and comparing to additional data. Analysis of the model suggests that there are at least three disjoint modes of repair, which we assign as fast, slow and intermediate. Our results show that when multiple data sets are combined, the rate for intermediate repair is variable amongst genetic knockouts. Further analysis suggests that the ratio between slow and intermediate repair depends on the presence or absence of DNA-PKcs and Ku70, which implies that non-homologous end joining and alternative end joining are not independent. Finally, we consider the proportion of double-strand breaks within each mechanism as a time series and predict activity as a function of repair rate. We outline how our insights can be directly tested using imaging and sequencing techniques and conclude that there is evidence of variable dynamics in alternative repair pathways. Our approach is an important step towards providing a unifying theoretical framework for the dynamics of DNA repair processes.
4,266 downloads systems biology
Massively multiplexed sequencing of RNA in individual cells is transforming basic and clinical life sciences. However, in standard experiments, tissues must first be dissociated. Thus, after sequencing, information about the spatial relationships between cells is lost although this knowledge is crucial for understanding cellular and tissue-level function. Recent attempts to overcome this fundamental challenge rely on employing additional in situ gene expression imaging data which can guide spatial mapping of sequenced cells. Here we present a conceptually different approach that allows to reconstruct spatial positions of cells in a variety of tissues without using reference imaging data. We first show for several complex biological systems that distances of single cells in expression space monotonically increase with their physical distances across tissues. We therefore seek to map cells to tissue space such that this principle is optimally preserved, while matching existing imaging data when available. We show that this optimization problem can be cast as a generalized optimal transport problem and solved efficiently. We apply our approach successfully to reconstruct the mammalian liver and intestinal epithelium as well as fly and zebrafish embryos. Our results demonstrate a simple spatial expression organization principle and that this principle (or future refined principles) can be used to infer, for individual cells, meaningful spatial position probabilities from the sequencing data alone.
4,216 downloads systems biology
Ordinary differential equations (ODEs) provide a classical framework to model the dynamics of biological systems, given temporal experimental data. Qualitative analysis of the ODE model can lead to further biological insight and deeper understanding compared to traditional experiments alone. Simulation of the model under various perturbations can generate novel hypotheses and motivate the design of new experiments. This short paper will provide an overview of the ODE modeling framework, and present examples of how ODEs can be used to address problems in cancer biology.
4,038 downloads systems biology
Traver Hart, Amy Tong, Katie Chan, Jolanda Van Leeuwen, Ashwin Seetharaman, Michael Aregger, Megha Chandrashekhar, Nicole Hustedt, Sahil Seth, Avery Noonan, Andrea Habsid, Olga Sizova, Lyudmila Nedyalkova, Ryan Climie, Keith Lawson, Maria Augusta Sartori, Sabriyeh Alibeh, David Tieu, Sanna Masud, Patricia Mero, Alexander Weiss, Kevin R. Brown, Matej Usaj, Maximilian Billmann, Mahfuzur Rahman, Michael Constanzo, Chad L. Myers, Brenda J. Andrews, Charles Boone, Daniel Durocher, Jason Moffat
The adaptation of CRISPR/Cas9 technology to mammalian cell lines is transforming the study of human functional genomics. Pooled libraries of CRISPR guide RNAs (gRNAs), targeting human protein-coding genes and encoded in viral vectors, have been used to systematically create gene knockouts in a variety of human cancer and immortalized cell lines, in an effort to identify whether these knockouts cause cellular fitness defects. Previous work has shown that CRISPR screens are more sensitive and specific than pooled library shRNA screens in similar assays, but currently there exists significant variability across CRISPR library designs and experimental protocols. In this study, we re-analyze 17 genome-scale knockout screens in human cell lines from three research groups using three different genome-scale gRNA libraries, using the Bayesian Analysis of Gene Essentiality (BAGEL) algorithm to identify essential genes, to refine and expand our previously defined set of human core essential genes, from 360 to 684 genes. We use this expanded set of reference Core Essential Genes (CEG2), plus empirical data from six CRISPR knockout screens, to guide the design of a sequence-optimized gRNA library, the Toronto KnockOut version 3.0 (TKOv3) library. We demonstrate the high effectiveness of the library relative to reference sets of essential and nonessential genes as well as other screens using similar approaches. The optimized TKOv3 library, combined with the CEG2 reference set, provide an efficient, highly optimized platform for performing and assessing gene knockout screens in human cell lines.
3,963 downloads systems biology
Janine Arloth, Gökcen Eraslan, Till FM Andlauer, Jade Martins, Stella Iurato, Brigitte Kühnel, Melanie Waldenberger, Josef Frank, Ralf Gold, Bernhard Hemmer, Felix Luessi, Sandra Nischwitz, Friedemann Paul, Heinz Wiendl, Christian Gieger, Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach, Tim Kacprowski, Matthias Laudes, Thomas Meitinger, Annette Peters, Rajesh Rawal, Konstantin Strauch, Susanne Lucae, Bertram Müller-Myhsok, Marcella Rietschel, Fabian J. Theis, Elisabeth B. Binder, Nikola S. Mueller
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identify genetic variants associated with quantitative traits or disease. Thus, GWAS never directly link variants to regulatory mechanisms, which, in turn, are typically inferred during post-hoc analyses. In parallel, a recent deep learning-based method allows for prediction of regulatory effects per variant on currently up to 1,000 cell type-specific chromatin features. We here describe "DeepWAS", a new approach that directly integrates predictions of these regulatory effects of single variants into a multivariate GWAS setting. As a result, single variants associated with a trait or disease are, by design, coupled to their impact on a chromatin feature in a cell type. Up to 40,000 regulatory single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were associated with multiple sclerosis (MS, 4,888 cases and 10,395 controls), major depressive disorder (MDD, 1,475 cases and 2,144 controls), and height (5,974 individuals) to each identify 43-61 regulatory SNPs, called deepSNPs, which are shown to reach at least nominal significance in large GWAS. MS- and height-specific deepSNPs resided in active chromatin and introns, whereas MDD-specific deepSNPs located mostly to intragenic regions and repressive chromatin states. We found deepSNPs to be enriched in public or cohort-matched expression and methylation quantitative trait loci and demonstrate the potential of the DeepWAS method to directly generate testable functional hypotheses based on genotype data alone. DeepWAS is an innovative GWAS approach with the power to identify individual SNPs in non-coding regions with gene regulatory capacity with a joint contribution to disease risk. DeepWAS is available at https://github.com/cellmapslab/DeepWAS.
3,682 downloads systems biology
Understanding how gene expression in single cells progress over time is vital for revealing the mechanisms governing cell fate transitions. RNA velocity, which infers immediate changes in gene expression by comparing levels of new (unspliced) versus mature (spliced) transcripts (La Manno et al. 2018), represents an important advance to these efforts. A key question remaining is whether it is possible to predict the most probable cell state backward or forward over arbitrary time-scales. To this end, we introduce an inclusive model (termed Dynamo) capable of predicting cell states over extended time periods, that incorporates promoter state switching, transcription, splicing, translation and RNA/protein degradation by taking advantage of scRNA-seq and the co-assay of transcriptome and proteome. We also implement scSLAM-seq by extending SLAM-seq to plate-based scRNA-seq (Hendriks et al. 2018; Erhard et al. 2019; Cao, Zhou, et al. 2019) and augment the model by explicitly incorporating the metabolic labelling of nascent RNA. We show that through careful design of labelling experiments and an efficient mathematical framework, the entire kinetic behavior of a cell from this model can be robustly and accurately inferred. Aided by the improved framework, we show that it is possible to reconstruct the transcriptomic vector field from sparse and noisy vector samples generated by single cell experiments. The reconstructed vector field further enables global mapping of potential landscapes that reflects the relative stability of a given cell state, and the minimal transition time and most probable paths between any cell states in the state space. This work thus foreshadows the possibility of predicting long-term trajectories of cells during a dynamic process instead of short time velocity estimates. Our methods are implemented as an open source tool, dynamo (https://github.com/aristoteleo/dynamo-release).
3,586 downloads systems biology
Transcriptional regulation occurs via changes to the rates of various biochemical processes. Sequencing based approaches that average together many cells have suggested that polymerase binding and polymerase release from promoter proximal pausing are two key regulated steps in the transcriptional process. However, single cell studies have revealed that transcription occurs in short, discontinuous bursts, suggesting that transcriptional burst initiation and termination might also be regulated steps. Here, we develop and apply a quantitative framework to connect changes in both Pol II ChIP sequencing and single cell transcriptional measurements to changes in the rates of specific steps of transcription. Using a number of global and targeted transcriptional regulatory perturbations, we show that burst initiation rate is indeed a key regulated step, demonstrating that transcriptional activity can be frequency modulated. Polymerase pause release is a second key regulated step, but the rate of polymerase binding is not changed by any of the biological perturbations we examined. Our results establish an important role for transcriptional burst regulation in the control of gene expression.
3,573 downloads systems biology
Dongxue Wang, Basak Eraslan, Thomas Wieland, Björn Hallström, Thomas Hopf, Daniel Paul Zolg, Jana Zecha, Anna Asplund, Li-hua Li, Chen Meng, Martin Frejno, Tobias Schmidt, Karsten Schnatbaum, Mathias Wilhelm, Frederik Ponten, Mathias Uhlen, Julien Gagneur, Hannes Hahne, Bernhard Kuster
Genome-, transcriptome- and proteome-wide measurements provide valuable insights into how biological systems are regulated. However, even fundamental aspects relating to which human proteins exist, where they are expressed and in which quantities are not fully understood. Therefore, we have generated a systematic, quantitative and deep proteome and transcriptome abundance atlas from 29 paired healthy human tissues from the Human Protein Atlas Project and representing human genes by 17,615 transcripts and 13,664 proteins. The analysis revealed that few proteins show truly tissue-specific expression, that vast differences between mRNA and protein quantities within and across tissues exist and that the expression levels of proteins are often more stable across tissues than those of transcripts. In addition, only ~2% of all exome and ~7% of all mRNA variants could be confidently detected at the protein level showing that proteogenomics remains challenging, requires rigorous validation using synthetic peptides and needs more sophisticated computational methods. Many uses of this resource can be envisaged ranging from the study of gene/protein expression regulation to protein biomarker specificity evaluation to name a few.
3,291 downloads systems biology
Non-genetic factors can cause individual cells to fluctuate substantially in gene expression levels over time. Yet it remains unclear whether these fluctuations can persist for much longer than the time of one cell division. Current methods for measuring gene expression in single cells mostly rely on single time point measurements, making the duration of gene expression fluctuations or cellular memory difficult to measure. Here, we report a method combining Luria and Delbrück’s fluctuation analysis with population-based RNA sequencing (MemorySeq) for identifying genes transcriptome-wide whose fluctuations persist for several cell divisions. MemorySeq revealed multiple gene modules that are expressed together in rare cells within otherwise homogeneous clonal populations. Further, we found that these rare cell subpopulations are associated with biologically distinct behaviors, such as the ability to proliferate in the face of anti-cancer therapeutics, in different cancer cell lines. The identification of non-genetic, multigenerational fluctuations has the potential to reveal new forms of biological memory at the level of single cells and suggests that non-genetic heritability of cellular state may be a quantitative property.
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