Emerging methods for the accurate quantification of gene expression in individual cells hold promise for revealing the extent, function and origins of cell-to-cell variability. Different high-throughput methods for single-cell RNA-seq have been introduced that vary in coverage, sensitivity and multiplexing ability.
Researchers from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Karolinska Institutet recently introduced Smart-seq for transcriptome analysis from single cells, and they subsequently optimized the method for improved sensitivity, accuracy and full-length coverage across transcripts. Here they present a detailed protocol for Smart-seq2 that allows the generation of full-length cDNA and sequencing libraries by using standard reagents. The entire protocol takes ∼2 d from cell picking to having a final library ready for sequencing; sequencing will require an additional 1-3 d depending on the strategy and sequencer. The current limitations are the lack of strand specificity and the inability to detect nonpolyadenylated (polyA-) RNA.