Repository logo

Decoding the regulatory network of early blood development from single-cell gene expression measurements.

Change log


Woodhouse, Steven 
Haghverdi, Laleh 
Lilly, Andrew J 
Tanaka, Yosuke 


Reconstruction of the molecular pathways controlling organ development has been hampered by a lack of methods to resolve embryonic progenitor cells. Here we describe a strategy to address this problem that combines gene expression profiling of large numbers of single cells with data analysis based on diffusion maps for dimensionality reduction and network synthesis from state transition graphs. Applying the approach to hematopoietic development in the mouse embryo, we map the progression of mesoderm toward blood using single-cell gene expression analysis of 3,934 cells with blood-forming potential captured at four time points between E7.0 and E8.5. Transitions between individual cellular states are then used as input to develop a single-cell network synthesis toolkit to generate a computationally executable transcriptional regulatory network model of blood development. Several model predictions concerning the roles of Sox and Hox factors are validated experimentally. Our results demonstrate that single-cell analysis of a developing organ coupled with computational approaches can reveal the transcriptional programs that underpin organogenesis.



Animals, Base Sequence, Blood Cells, Computer Simulation, Diffusion, Female, Gastrulation, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Gene Regulatory Networks, Male, Mice, Inbred ICR, Models, Genetic, Molecular Sequence Data, Single-Cell Analysis, Transcription, Genetic

Journal Title

Nat Biotechnol

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/I00050X/1)
Medical Research Council (G0900951)
Cancer Research Uk (None)
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (12029)
Wellcome Trust (097922/Z/11/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_12009)
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (7001-12)
Medical Research Council (MR/M008975/1)
Wellcome Trust (100140/Z/12/Z)
Wellcome Trust (097922/Z/11/B)
Medical Research Council (G0900951/1)
We thank J. Downing (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA) for the Runx1-ires-GFP mouse. Research in the authors' laboratory is supported by the Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Microsoft Research and core support grants by the Wellcome Trust to the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Wellcome Trust - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute. V.M. is supported by a Medical Research Council Studentship and Centenary Award and S.W. by a Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship.