Novel method sheds light on cell development

Published: 2018-08-15


Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Harvard Medical School led by Sten Linnarsson (Karolinska Institutet/SciLifeLab) report in Nature that they have developed a technique to capture dynamic processes in single cells. The method can be used to study disease processes and to observe how specialized cell types are formed during embryogenesis.

The new method is built on the fact that when a gene is activated a series of RNA-molecules are formed in a certain order. By telling these molecules apart Sten Linnarsson and colleagues are able to see if a gene has just been activated or if it is soon switching off.

“We’ve now developed a new method that measures not only genetic activity but also changes in this activity in individual cells. You can compare this to a photo captured with a long exposure, which results in motion blur: stationary objects are sharp while objects in motion are blurred. Objects moving quickly are blurrier, and the direction of movement is revealed by the direction of blur.” Says Sten Linnarsson.

Sten Linnarsson is Co-Founder of SciLifeLabs facility for Eukaryotic Single Cell Genomics.

The new method can be compared to a photo captured with a long exposure, where stationary objects are sharp while objects in motion are blurred.

 

Read full scientific paper in Nature

Read full news article by Karolinska Institutet