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The role of single-cell analyses in understanding cell lineage commitment

Authors

  • Tyler M. Gibson,

    1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
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  • Prof. Charles A. Gersbach

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
    2. Institute for Genome Science and Policy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
    3. Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
    • Department of Biomedical Engineering, Room 136 Hudson Hall, Box 90281, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0281, USA
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Abstract

The study of cell lineage commitment is critical for improving our understanding of tissue development and regeneration, and for realizing stem cell-based therapies and engineered tissue replacements. Recently, the discovery of an unanticipated degree of variability in fundamental biological processes, including divergent responses of genetically identical cells to various stimuli, has provided mechanistic insight into cellular decision making and the collective behavior of cell populations. Therefore, the study of lineage commitment with single-cell resolution could provide greater knowledge of cellular differentiation mechanisms and the influence of noise on cellular processes. This will require the adoption of new technologies for single-cell analysis as traditional methods typically measure average values of bulk population behavior. This review discusses the recent developments in methods for analyzing the behavior of individual cells, and how these approaches are leading to a deeper understanding and better control of cellular decision making.

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