Uncovering the origin of cell heterogeneity in human embryonic lung


In a recent publication in Nature Cell Biology, an integrated single-cell RNA sequencing and spatial transcriptomics strategy was used to clarify the origins and mechanisms behind cell heterogeneity in lung. The results were used to create a topographic atlas of early human lung development.

The lung contains numerous specialized cell types with distinct roles in tissue function and integrity. Based on histology expression of characteristic markers and developments in single-cell genomics 58 distinct cell types and states can be categorized into five major cell classes. In this publication the authors use state-of-the-art technologies to capture and map the gene expression profiles of human embryonic lung in time and space. They suggest six main cell classes with 83 cell identities, corresponding to cell types and transitional states, and after defining the topological neighbourhoods of spatially related cell identities interactome analysis is used to describe how spatial factors and cell interactions drive communication niches and tissue-design rules. The study included several research groups at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), Stockholm, Sweden.

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