Single cell studies, new technique established at K2

The Human Cell Atlas Project is an international collaborative effort that aims to define all human cell types in terms of distinctive molecular profiles (such as gene expression profiles) and to connect this information with classical cellular descriptions (such as location and morphology). This quote is from the presentation of “The Human Cell Atlas” in eLife. The Human Cell Atlas Consortium is an international collaborative project aimed at describing all types of human cells and linking this information with classical cell biology knowledge such as localization and morphology. The atlas will be openly available to all researchers. In June, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative granted $ 68 million to 38 research groups around the world to study various organs and systems (like the immune system) in different populations using blood and organ specimens (organ donors, surgical tissue). In the next few years a host of information will be available to increase our understanding of normal physiology and pathology.

Some of the research groups at K2 have started using these methods, but now nine different groups at our faculty have pitched in money to buy the10X Genomics technology, making it easier to get started with single-cell studies. With 10x technology, up to 10,000 single cells can be studied in one experiment. The technique is based on the isolation of single cells in oil droplets together with a package of barcoded primers. In addition to RNA-seq 10x performs copy number profiling, ATAC sequencing at single cell resolution and long read genome- and exome sequencing (https://www.10xgenomics.com/). This enables one to extract information about the individual cell after bulk sequencing of the sample, and for example construct a tissue map where the cells are grouped according to properties. The technique opens up a wealth of opportunities to study disease processes at the single cell level and test out various treatments. A nearby example is cancer treatment and treatment responses to various tumor cells.

The 10X machine will be located on the Flow Cytometry Core Facility at K2. Those interested can contact the Core Facility for further information. I hope that many groups will seize the opportunity to use single cell techniques.

Good luck

Eystein Husebye

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