A recent publication in Nature highlights recent research by a collaborative team from Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and Harvard Medical School, Boston. To understand the function of complex tissues over time, scientists have succeeded in taking expression snapshots of various genes within tissues. However, until now tools for measuring the complex interplay of the more than 20 000 genes within a given tissue over time, have been missing.
The research group have managed to develop a technique enabling both the level and rate change of expression to be measured simultaneously for each gene in a single cell. To achieve this, the researchers analysed data that was generated through single-cell RNA sequencing. The authors demonstrated that these serial snapshots of single cell RNA sequences provided the necessary information about whether the expression of each gene was increasing or decreasing at a given point in time.
The ability to analyse the variation of RNA expression over time in individual cells is a break-through for studies of gene expression dynamics on the whole-genome scale.