Bart Deplancke, PhD, a scientist at EPFL, is a senior author of the study.
Bart Deplancke, PhD, a scientist at EPFL, is a senior author of the study.

Sequencing Living Cells Made Possible Through Live-Seq

Until now all genome-wide sequencing technologies killed the cell to gain glimpses into its secrets. This technical limitation eliminated the possibility of follow-up analyses on a cell’s biological characteristics or molecular signatures once the cell was sequenced. A team led by Bart Deplancke, PhD, at EPFL, and Julia Vorholt, PhD, at ETH Zurich, has enhanced single-cell RNA sequencing technology such that the method can now obtain the sequences of thousands of transcripts from a single cell and thereby infer genetic activity without breaking the cell open.

Details of the development of the new technology called Live-Seq were published in an article in the journal Nature (“Live-seq enables temporal transcriptomic recording of single cells”). This innovation enables the collection and profiling of RNA from live cells under minimally invasive conditions.

“It [Live-seq] is the combination of an optimized fluid force microscopy approach—essentially an atomic force microscope with a hollow cantilever, which allows us to extract cytoplasm (and thus also mRNA) from a cell without lysing it, and a highly sensitive single-cell transcriptomic approach developed in-house that allows us to derive genome-wide gene expression profiles from the minute amounts of mRNA that are present in the cytoplasmic extract,” said Deplancke.

Deplancke lab – Laboratory of Systems Biology and Genetics

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