Only by viewing a Seurat painting at close range can you appreciate the hidden complexities of pointillism – small, distinct dots of pure color applied in patterns to form an image from a distance. Similarly, biologists and geneticists have long sought to analyze profiles of genes at the single cell level but technology limitations have only allowed a view from afar until now.
Research published in the July 22 issue of Nature Biotechnology, shows for the first time that a novel genomic sequencing method called Smart-Seq can help scientists conduct in-depth analyses of clinically relevant single cells. Smart-Seq has many possible applications, including helping scientists to better understand the complexities of tumor development. This is vitally important as many clinically important cells exist only in small numbers and require single cell analysis. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, the University of California, San Diego and Illumina Inc.
"While our results are preliminary, we showed that it is possible to do studies of individual, clinically relevant cells," says biomedical scientist Rickard Sandberg, researcher at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and principal investigator at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet. "Cancer researchers around the world will now be able to analyze these cells more systematically to enable them to produce better methods of diagnosis and therapy in the future."
Previous research showed that it is common for one gene to give rise to several forms of the same protein through different cut-and-paste configurations of its raw copy. The phenomenon, known as splicing, means that cells from the same tissue are not so homogenous as previously thought.
The research team has now taken its study a step further and developed a method for the complete mapping of the gene expression of individual cells. In showing which genes are active, it is now possible to accurately describe and study differences in gene expression between individual cells from the same tissue.
"Scientists have been waiting for a long time for such a method to come along, but technical limitations have made it difficult to produce a sufficiently sensitive and robust method," says Dr. Sandberg. "The method has several areas of applications including cancer research where it can be used to study which cell types form cancer tumors in individual patients."
In the study, scientists studied tumor cells in the blood system of a patient with recurring malignant melanoma. Once they had identified the tumor cells in a regular blood test, the team used Smart-Seq to analyze their gene expression. By using this method, researchers could show that the tumor cells had activated many important membrane proteins that are understood to be responsible for their ability to evade the body's monitoring system and spread in the blood or lymph.
The study was conducted with the support of several funding bodies, including the European Research Council, the Swedish Research Council, the Foundation for Strategic Research, the Åke Wiberg Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Publication: 'Full-Length mRNA-Seq from single cell levels of RNA and individual circulating tumor cells', Daniel Ramsköld, Shujun Luo, Yu-Chieh Wang, Robin Li, Qiaolin Deng, Omid R. Faridani, Gregory A. Daniels, Irina Khrebtukova, Jeanne F. Loring, Louise C. Laurent, Gary P. Schroth and Rickard Sandberg, Nature Biotechnology, online publication 22 July 2012.
About Karolinska Institute
Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. It accounts for over 40 percent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country's broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. Since 1901 the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.
About The Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
LICR is an international non-profit organization committed to improving the understanding and control of cancer through integrated laboratory and clinical discovery. Leveraging its worldwide network of investigators and the ability to sponsor and conduct its own clinical trials, the Institute is actively engaged in translating its discoveries into applications for patient benefit. Since its establishment in 1971, the Institute has expended more than $1.5 billion on cancer research.
For further information please contact the KI press room at +46 8 524 860 77 or Pressinfo@ki.se or visit http://ki.se/pressroom and Rachel Steinhardt, email@example.com or +1-212-450-1582.
Rachel Steinhardt | EurekAlert!
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Snap, Digest, Respire
20.01.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy