Almost all biomedical research to date has relied upon mean measurements from cell populations, however it is well established that what it is observed at this macroscopic level can be the result of many interactions of several different single cells. Thus, the observable macroscopic 'average' cannot outright be used as representative of the 'average cell'. Rather, it is the resulting emerging behaviour of the actions and interactions of many different cells. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) enables the comparison of the transcriptomes of individual cells. This provides high-resolution maps of the dynamic cellular programmes allowing us to answer fundamental biological questions on their function and evolution. It also allows to address medical questions such as the role of rare cell populations contributing to disease progression and therapeutic resistance. Furthermore, it provides an understanding of context-specific dependencies, namely the behaviour and function that a cell has in a specific context, which can be crucial to understand some complex diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Here, we provide an overview of scRNA-Seq, including a comparative review of emerging technologies and computational pipelines. We discuss the current and emerging applications and focus on tumour heterogeneity a clear example of how scRNA-Seq can provide new understanding of a complex disease. Additionally, we review the limitations and highlight the need of powerful computational pipelines and reproducible protocols for the broader acceptance of this technique in basic and clinical research.

Single cell RNA-sequencing: a powerful yet still challenging technology to study cellular heterogeneity

Buffa, Francesca M.
Conceptualization
2022-01-01

Abstract

Almost all biomedical research to date has relied upon mean measurements from cell populations, however it is well established that what it is observed at this macroscopic level can be the result of many interactions of several different single cells. Thus, the observable macroscopic 'average' cannot outright be used as representative of the 'average cell'. Rather, it is the resulting emerging behaviour of the actions and interactions of many different cells. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) enables the comparison of the transcriptomes of individual cells. This provides high-resolution maps of the dynamic cellular programmes allowing us to answer fundamental biological questions on their function and evolution. It also allows to address medical questions such as the role of rare cell populations contributing to disease progression and therapeutic resistance. Furthermore, it provides an understanding of context-specific dependencies, namely the behaviour and function that a cell has in a specific context, which can be crucial to understand some complex diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Here, we provide an overview of scRNA-Seq, including a comparative review of emerging technologies and computational pipelines. We discuss the current and emerging applications and focus on tumour heterogeneity a clear example of how scRNA-Seq can provide new understanding of a complex disease. Additionally, we review the limitations and highlight the need of powerful computational pipelines and reproducible protocols for the broader acceptance of this technique in basic and clinical research.
2022
Ke, May; Elshenawy, Badran; Sheldon, Helen; Arora, Anjali; Buffa, Francesca M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/4052488
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