Act-Seq – detecting activated cell populations using single-cell rna-seq

Single-cell RNA sequencing offers a promising opportunity for probing cell types mediating specific behavioral functions and the underlying molecular programs. However, this has been hampered by a long-standing issue in transcriptional profiling of dissociated cells, specifically the transcriptional perturbations that are artificially induced during conventional whole-cell dissociation procedures.

Researchers from UCLA have developed Act-seq, which minimizes artificially induced transcriptional perturbations and allows for faithful detection of both baseline transcriptional profiles and acute transcriptional changes elicited by behavior/experience-driven activity. Using Act-seq, they provide the first detailed molecular taxonomy of distinct cell types in the amygdala. They further show that Act-seq robustly detects seizure-induced acute gene expression changes in multiple cell types, revealing cell-type-specific activation profiles. Furthermore, the researchers find that acute stress preferentially activates neuronal subpopulations that express the neuropeptide gene Cck. Act-seq opens the way for linking physiological stimuli with acute transcriptional dynamics in specific cell types in diverse complex tissues.

Wu YE, Pan L, Zuo Y, Li X, Hong W. (2017) Detecting Activated Cell Populations Using Single-Cell RNA-Seq. Neuron [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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