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Single-cell genomics and gene editing: implications for nephrology

Discoveries in 2018 using single-cell sequencing and gene-editing technologies have revealed their transformative potential for the investigation of kidney physiology and disease. Their promise is matched by the speed of their evolution.

Key advances

  • Massively parallel single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) enables molecular characterization of cell types and states with unprecedented precision and is having a profound impact across biology2,3,4.

  • Integration of scRNA-seq and genome-wide association study (GWAS) data sets allows for sensitive identification of causal cell types and genes in human kidney disease3,4.

  • Advances in CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing have facilitated the development of new approaches to activate the expression of protective gene programmes in kidney disease models, providing an encouraging proof of principle for this therapeutic approach8,10.

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Fig. 1: Integrating single-cell expression data with GWAS variants can help identify relevant cell types in disease.


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Correspondence to Benjamin D. Humphreys.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Wilson, P.C., Humphreys, B.D. Single-cell genomics and gene editing: implications for nephrology. Nat Rev Nephrol 15, 63–64 (2019).

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