Using single-cell genomics to understand developmental processes and cell fate decisions.

Change log
Griffiths, Jonathan A 
Scialdone, Antonio 
Marioni, John C 

High-throughput -omics techniques have revolutionised biology, allowing for thorough and unbiased characterisation of the molecular states of biological systems. However, cellular decision-making is inherently a unicellular process to which "bulk" -omics techniques are poorly suited, as they capture ensemble averages of cell states. Recently developed single-cell methods bridge this gap, allowing high-throughput molecular surveys of individual cells. In this review, we cover core concepts of analysis of single-cell gene expression data and highlight areas of developmental biology where single-cell techniques have made important contributions. These include understanding of cell-to-cell heterogeneity, the tracing of differentiation pathways, quantification of gene expression from specific alleles, and the future directions of cell lineage tracing and spatial gene expression analysis.

cell fate, development, differentiation, single‐cell RNA‐seq, transcriptome
Journal Title
Molecular Systems Biology
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Wellcome Trust (109081/Z/15/Z)
J.A.G. was supported by Wellcome Trust Grant “Systematic Identification of Lineage Specification in Murine Gastrulation” (109081/Z/15/A). A.S. was supported by Wellcome Trust Grant “Tracing early mammalian lineage decisions by single cell genomics” (105031/B/14/Z). J.C.M. was supported by core funding from Cancer Research UK (award no. A17197) and EMBL.