Metabolites, cell by cell

    Single-cell measurements are revealing how individual yeast cells react to environmental and genetic challenges.

    Advances in mass spectrometry, which identifies individual compounds in complex mixtures, have given researchers the chance to compose cell-by-cell portraits of metabolism. Renato Zenobi at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and his colleagues used the approach to profile how baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) responds to 2-deoxyglucose, which blocks the breakdown of glucose, and a genetic mutation known to mimic the effects of this substance.

    The authors found that the single-cell approach allowed them to identify subpopulations of cells. For example, some cells accumulated high levels of a metabolite called F16BP, whereas others did not. This observation would have been missed if the analyses were carried out on a population of cells.

    Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2013)

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    Metabolites, cell by cell. Nature 497, 538–539 (2013).

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