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A method for the analysis of gene rearrangement in single immune cells

The antigen specificity of cytotoxic T cells, provided by T-cell receptors (TCRs), plays a central role in the development of human autoimmune diseases, infections, and cancers. Since the TCR repertoire is unique for individual cytotoxic T cells, a strategy to analyze its gene rearrangement at the single-cell level is required. Tadashi Matsunaga's group at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology applied a highdensity microcavity array to enable the detection of target cells by screening several thousand single cells for the identification of functional TCR gene repertoires specific to cancer and virus antigens. An orderly arrangement of cells on the microcavity array eased the detection and isolation of targeted single cells in a polyclonal T-cell population under a microscope. This simple, accurate, and cost-effective technique for single-cell analysis has further potential as a valuable and widely applicable tool for studies on gene screening and expression analyses of various kinds of cells. Arakaki et al. Biotechnol Bioeng 2010;106:311–318.