A New Toolbox for Assessing Single Cells

Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Vol. 5:455-477 (Volume publication date June 2014) 


Unprecedented access to the biology of single cells is now feasible, enabled by recent technological advancements that allow us to manipulate and measure sparse samples and achieve a new level of resolution in space and time. This review focuses on advances in tools to study single cells for specific areas of biology. We examine both mature and nascent techniques to study single cells at the genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics level. In addition, we provide an overview of tools that are well suited for following biological responses to defined perturbations with single-cell resolution. Techniques to analyze and manipulate single cells through soluble and chemical ligands, the microenvironment, and cell-cell interactions are provided. For each of these topics, we highlight the biological motivation, applications, methods, recent advances, and opportunities for improvement. The toolbox presented in this review can function as a starting point for the design of single-cell experiments.



Konstantinos Tsioris,1,2 Alexis J. Torres,1,2 Thomas B. Douce,1,2 and J. Christopher Love1,2,3,4

1Department of Chemical Engineering,

2Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research,

3Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and

4Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4307;