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Single-cell RNA-Seq of Defined Subsets of Retinal Ganglion Cells

Published: May 22nd, 2017



1Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, 2Department of Neurobiology, Northwestern University

The discovery of cell type-specific markers can provide insight into cellular function and the origins of cellular heterogeneity. With a recent push for the improved understanding of neuronal diversity, it is important to identify genes whose expression defines various subpopulations of cells. The retina serves as an excellent model for the study of central nervous system diversity, as it is composed of multiple major cell types. The study of each major class of cells has yielded genetic markers that facilitate the identification of these populations. However, multiple subtypes of cells exist within each of these major retinal cell classes, and few of these subtypes have known genetic markers, although many have been characterized by morphology or function. A knowledge of genetic markers for individual retinal subtypes would allow for the study and mapping of brain targets related to specific visual functions and may also lend insight into the gene networks that maintain cellular diversity. Current avenues used to identify the genetic markers of subtypes possess drawbacks, such as the classification of cell types following sequencing. This presents a challenge for data analysis and requires rigorous validation methods to ensure that clusters contain cells of the same function. We propose a technique for identifying the morphology and functionality of a cell prior to isolation and sequencing, which will allow for the easier identification of subtype-specific markers. This technique may be extended to non-neuronal cell types, as well as to rare populations of cells with minor variations. This protocol yields excellent-quality data, as many of the libraries have provided read depths greater than 20 million reads for single cells. This methodology overcomes many of the hurdles presented by Single-cell RNA-Seq and may be suitable for researchers aiming to profile cell types in a straightforward and highly efficient manner.


Single cell RNA Seq

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