Research Article

Lineage tracing on transcriptional landscapes links state to fate during differentiation

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, eaaw3381
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw3381

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Mapping cell fate during hematopoiesis

Biologists have long attempted to understand how stem and progenitor cells in regenerating and embryonic tissues differentiate into mature cell types. Through the use of recent technical advances to sequence the genes expressed in thousands of individual cells, differentiation mechanisms are being revealed. Weinreb et al. extended these methods to track clones of cells (cell families) across time. Their approach reveals differences in cellular gene expression as cells progress through hematopoiesis, which is the process of blood production. Using machine learning, they tested how well gene expression measurements account for the choices that cells make. This work reveals that a considerable gap still exists in understanding differentiation mechanisms, and future methods are needed to fully understand—and ultimately control—cell differentiation.

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