Single-cell RNA-sequencing reveals a continuous spectrum of differentiation in hematopoietic cells

Iain C. Macaulay, Valentine Svensson, Charlotte Labalette, Lauren Ferreira, Fiona Hamey, Thierry Voet, Sarah A. Teichmann, Ana Cvejic

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The transcriptional programs that govern hematopoiesis have been investigated primarily by population-level analysis of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, which cannot reveal the continuous nature of the differentiation process. Here we applied single-cell RNA-sequencing to a population of hematopoietic cells in zebrafish as they undergo thrombocyte lineage commitment. By reconstructing their developmental chronology computationally, we were able to place each cell along a continuum from stem cell to mature cell, refining the traditional lineage tree. The progression of cells along this continuum is characterized by a highly coordinated transcriptional program, displaying simultaneous suppression of genes involved in cell proliferation and ribosomal biogenesis as the expression of lineage specific genes increases. Within this program, there is substantial heterogeneity in the expression of the key lineage regulators. Overall, the total number of genes expressed, as well as the total mRNA content of the cell, decreases as the cells undergo lineage commitment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-977
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

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