New Method Makes Genetic Messengers Visible in 3D Within a Single Cell
Using the power of advanced computing and microscope techniques, scientists from the California Institute of Technology and elsewhere have tracked the locations of 10,000 gene products in three dimensions within single cells in the mouse brain. The work offers researchers the ability to track the activities of individual genes, for the first time ever enabling study how the fine distribution of genetic messengers affects the workings of cells and how these add up to the behavior of tissues in the body.
The group employed a method called seqFISH+ to use multiple rounds of imaging and reactions to paint individual mRNA molecules with different sequences of colors under standard microscopes. A kind of barcode, these sequential images allowed them to tell mRNAs—the molecular messengers that carry genes’ instructions throughout the cell—apart from each other at distances that would normally be beyond the ability of the microscope to resolve.
This work was funded by award number 1OT2OD026673-01 through the NIH Common Fund HuBMAP initiative. You can read the team’s April 2019 paper in the journal Nature here.