Repository logo

Sequencing cell-type-specific transcriptomes with SLAM-ITseq.

Accepted version

Change log


Herzog, Veronika A 
Neumann, Tobias 
Gapp, Katharina 
Zuber, Johannes 


Analysis of cell-type-specific transcriptomes is vital for understanding the biology of tissues and organs in the context of multicellular organisms. In this Protocol Extension, we combine a previously developed cell-type-specific metabolic RNA labeling method (thiouracil (TU) tagging) and a pipeline to detect the labeled transcripts by a novel RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) method, SLAMseq (thiol (SH)-linked alkylation for the metabolic sequencing of RNA). By injecting a uracil analog, 4-thiouracil, into transgenic mice that express cell-type-specific uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (UPRT), an enzyme required for 4-thiouracil incorporation into newly synthesized RNA, only cells expressing UPRT synthesize thiol-containing RNA. Total RNA isolated from a tissue of interest is then sequenced with SLAMseq, which introduces thymine to cytosine (T>C) conversions at the sites of the incorporated 4-thiouracil. The resulting sequencing reads are then mapped with the T>C-aware alignment software, SLAM-DUNK, which allows mapping of reads containing T>C mismatches. The number of T>C conversions per transcript is further analyzed to identify which transcripts are synthesized in the UPRT-expressing cells. Thus, our method, SLAM-ITseq (SLAMseq in tissue), enables cell-specific transcriptomics without laborious FACS-based cell sorting or biochemical isolation of the labeled transcripts used in TU tagging. In the murine tissues we assessed previously, this method identified ~5,000 genes that are expressed in a cell type of interest from the total RNA pool from the tissue. Any laboratory with access to a high-throughput sequencer and high-power computing can adapt this protocol with ease, and the entire pipeline can be completed in <5 d.



Animals, Female, Gene Expression Profiling, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Organ Specificity, Pentosyltransferases, Sequence Analysis, RNA, Thiouracil, Transcriptome

Journal Title

Nature Protocols

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Nature Publishing Group


All rights reserved
Wellcome Trust (092096/Z/10/Z)
Wellcome Trust (104640/Z/14/Z)
Cancer Research UK (18583)
Cancer Research Uk (None)
Wellcome Trust (203144/Z/16/Z)
This work was supported by grants from Cancer Research UK (C13474/A18583, C6946/A14492) and the Wellcome Trust (104640/Z/14/Z, 092096/Z/10/Z) to E.A.M.; and a grant from the European Research Council (ERC-StG-338252 miRLIFE) to S.L.A. The IMP is generously supported by Boehringer Ingelheim. W.M. was supported by the Nakajima Foundation and St John’s College Benefactors’ Scholarship. K.G. was supported by a Swiss National Foundation postdoc mobility fellowship.