Three new units for single cell biology are being set up at SciLifeLab in Stockholm and Uppsala during spring 2015. The new units will render technological advances in Sweden and abroad widely available to the Swedish scientific community, with the goal for the region to become world leading in advanced molecular single cell analyses.
Advances in cell sorting and molecular analyses now enable researchers to comprehensively describe properties and functions of individual cells. This is in contrast to conventional biochemistry and molecular biology, which focuses on analyses of whole tissue samples and whole microbial populations or communities.
“Such bulk approaches fail to reveal cellular heterogeneity and the interplay that underlies many pivotal biological functions” says Sten Linnarsson, Platform Director of the Eukaryotic Single-Cell Analysis unit. “Single cell genomics can be applied to understand the heterogeneity of tumors, to explain how genetically identical cells may show distinct behavior, and to explore the vast, uncharacterized microbial landscape. Therefore, these technologies have the potential to revolutionize biology and medicine.”
The three new single cell-units will be integrated in the SciLifeLab national platform Functional Genomics. The units build on unique expertise that will allow Swedish researchers to capitalize on recent technological advances to characterize individual cells at genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic levels. The aim is to provide new insights into heterogeneity and division of labor within tissues or communities of cells from all domains of life.
“Few, if any other labs world-wide have the specialized skills and equipment needed to capture and process individual cells for the multiparametric analyses that will now be offered at the SciLifeLab units” says Ulf Landegren, Platform Director of the Single Cell Proteomics unit.
The Eukaryotic Single-Cell Analysis unit will be placed in Stockholm and will offer single-cell RNA-seq on the Fluidigm C1 platform using the STRT protocol, as well as in a microtiter-plate format using SMART-seq2. Whole-genome amplification will also be offered. The Unit will employ a total of four staff, and will open to external users in mid-2015.
The Single Cell Proteomics unit, placed in Uppsala, will provide services for targeted, multiplex detection of proteins or combinations of proteins and RNA in single to very few cells. Services and resources will be focused on human cells and tissues, but consultation on setting up assays in other multicellular eukaryotes will be possible. The unit will be open to external users in mid-2015. However, inquiries for early access to the technology are already welcome.
The Microbial Single Cell Genomics unit in Uppsala is already operational and aims to provide a broad range of single cell genomics services. Single cell genomics is an emerging technology enabling the exploration of genomes of individual microbial cells without the need for prior cultivation. The unit offers streamlined single-cell sorting and lysis, whole-genome amplification, and gene-based screening of individual cells as well as whole genome sequencing services to the scientific community in Sweden and beyond.
“Many key-biological questions require the analysis of hundreds or even thousands of individual cells; the high-throughput units hosted by the SciLifeLab are scaled to enable such analyses, and will offer this to the Swedish research community” says Stefan Bertilsson, Platform Director of the Microbial Single Cell Genomics unit.