Human Genetics

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Science  23 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6148, pp. 821-823
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6148.821-d

Countless freezers and cabinet drawers are filled with fixed specimens on slides, whole organisms in some cases, tissue slices in others. In order to probe the specifics of gene expression within fixed cells and tissues, Ke et al. have developed a method to apply single-cell RNA sequencing in situ and show that they can see mRNA molecules that differ by a single nucleotide between cells. Although the sequencing is limited to stretches of four nucleotides, the authors are able to detect cell-specific mutations within KRAS genes, and they demonstrate multiplex expression profiling with different genes within breast tissue. Further development and application of this technique may yield dividends in developmental biology, epigenetics, and tumor and stem cell research.

Nat. Methods 10, 10.1038/nmeth.2563 (2013).

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