Single-cell analysis of regions of interest (SCARI) using a photosensitive tag.


The functional activity and differentiation potential of cells are determined by their interactions with surrounding cells. Approaches that allow unbiased characterization of cell states while at the same time providing spatial information are of major value to assess this environmental influence. However, most current techniques are hampered by a tradeoff between spatial resolution and cell profiling depth. Here, we develop a photocage-based technology that allows isolation and in-depth analysis of live cells from regions of interest in complex ex vivo systems, including primary human tissues. The use of a highly sensitive 4-nitrophenyl(benzofuran) cage coupled to a set of nanobodies allows high-resolution photo-uncaging of different cell types in areas of interest. Single-cell RNA-sequencing of spatially defined CD8+ T cells is used to exemplify the feasibility of identifying location-dependent cell states. The technology described here provides a valuable tool for the analysis of spatially defined cells in diverse biological systems, including clinical samples.

More about this publication

Nature chemical biology
  • Volume 17
  • Issue nr. 11
  • Pages 1139-1147
  • Publication date 01-11-2021

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