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Spatial reconstruction of immune niches by combining photoactivatable reporters and scRNA-seq

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Science  07 Dec 2017:
eaao4277
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao4277

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Abstract

Cellular functions are strongly dependent on surrounding cells and environmental factors. Current technologies are limited in characterizing the spatial location and unique gene-programs of cells in less structured and dynamic niches. Here we developed a method (NICHE-seq) that combines photoactivatable fluorescent reporters, two-photon microscopy and single-cell RNA-seq to infer the cellular and molecular composition of niches. We applied NICHE-seq to examine the high-order assembly of immune cell networks. NICHE-seq is highly reproducible in spatial tissue reconstruction, enabling identification of rare niche-specific immune subpopulations and unique gene-programs, including natural killer cells within infected B cell follicles and distinct myeloid states in the spleen and tumor. This study establishes NICHE-seq as a broadly applicable method for elucidating high-order spatial organization of cell types and their molecular pathways.

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