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Highly Efficient, Massively-Parallel Single-Cell RNA-Seq Reveals Cellular States and Molecular Features of Human Skin Pathology

By Travis K Hughes, Marc H Wadsworth, Todd M Gierahn, Tran Do, David Weiss, Priscilla R. Andrade, Feiyang Ma, Bruno J. de Andrade Silva, Shuai Shao, Lam C Tsoi, Jose Ordovas-Montanes, Johann E Gudjonsson, Robert L Modlin, J. Christopher Love, Alex K Shalek

Posted 02 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/689273

The development of high-throughput single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-Seq) methodologies has empowered the characterization of complex biological samples by dramatically increasing the number of constituent cells that can be examined concurrently. Nevertheless, these approaches typically recover substantially less information per-cell as compared to lower-throughput microtiter plate-based strategies. To uncover critical phenotypic differences among cells and effectively link scRNA-Seq observations to legacy datasets, reliable detection of phenotype-defining transcripts – such as transcription factors, affinity receptors, and signaling molecules – by these methods is essential. Here, we describe a substantially improved massively-parallel scRNA-Seq protocol we term Seq-Well S^3 (“Second-Strand Synthesis”) that increases the efficiency of transcript capture and gene detection by up to 10- and 5-fold, respectively, relative to previous iterations, surpassing best-in-class commercial analogs. We first characterized the performance of Seq-Well S^3 in cell lines and PBMCs, and then examined five different inflammatory skin diseases, illustrative of distinct types of inflammation, to explore the breadth of potential immune and parenchymal cell states. Our work presents an essential methodological advance as well as a valuable resource for studying the cellular and molecular features that inform human skin inflammation.

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