Emerging single-cell tools are primed to reveal functional and molecular heterogeneity in malignant hematopoietic stem cells.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The recent emergence of single-cell technologies has permitted unprecedented insight into the molecular drivers of fate choice in blood stem and progenitor cells. This review gives a broad overview of current efforts to understand the molecular regulators of malignant hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) at the single-cell level. RECENT FINDINGS: The large-scale adoption of single-cell approaches has allowed extensive description of the transcriptional profiles and functional properties of single HSCs. These techniques are now beginning to be applied to malignant HSCs isolated directly from patients or from mouse models of malignancy. However, these studies have generally struggled to pinpoint the functional regulators of malignant characteristics, since malignant HSCs often differ in more than one property when compared with normal HSCs. Moreover, both normal and malignant populations are complicated by HSC heterogeneity. SUMMARY: Despite the existence of single-cell gene expression profiling tools, relatively few publications have emerged. Here, we review these studies from recent years with a specific focus on those undertaking single-cell measurements in malignant stem and progenitor cells. We anticipate this to be the tip of the iceberg, expecting the next 2-3 years to produce datasets that will facilitate a much broader understanding of malignant HSCs.
Medical Research Council (MR/M008975/1)