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Scaling single-cell genomics from phenomenology to mechanism

Nature volume 541, pages 331338 (19 January 2017) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Three of the most fundamental questions in biology are how individual cells differentiate to form tissues, how tissues function in a coordinated and flexible fashion and which gene regulatory mechanisms support these processes. Single-cell genomics is opening up new ways to tackle these questions by combining the comprehensive nature of genomics with the microscopic resolution that is required to describe complex multicellular systems. Initial single-cell genomic studies provided a remarkably rich phenomenology of heterogeneous cellular states, but transforming observational studies into models of dynamics and causal mechanisms in tissues poses fresh challenges and requires stronger integration of theoretical, computational and experimental frameworks.

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Acknowledgements

We thank L. Gaffney for help with artwork. A.R. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. A.T. is a Kimmel investigator and is supported by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute and the European Research Council.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.

    • Amos Tanay
  2. Department of Biological Regulation, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.

    • Amos Tanay
  3. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.

    • Aviv Regev
  4. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140, USA.

    • Aviv Regev
  5. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.

    • Aviv Regev

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Competing interests

A.R. is a member of the scientific advisory boards of Thermo Fisher Scientific and Syros Pharmaceuticals and is a consultant to the Driver Group.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Amos Tanay or Aviv Regev.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21350

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