DOI: 10.1101/486852Jan 21, 2019Paper

scSLAM-seq reveals core features of transcription dynamics in single cells

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Florian ErhardLars Doelken


Current single-cell RNA sequencing approaches gives a snapshot of a cellular phenotype but convey no information on the temporal dynamics of transcription. Moreover, the stochastic nature of transcription at molecular level is not recovered. Here, we present single-cell SLAM-seq (scSLAM-seq), which integrates metabolic RNA labeling, biochemical nucleoside conversion and single-cell RNA-seq to directly measure total transcript levels and transcriptional activity by differentiating newly synthesized from pre-existing RNA for thousands of genes per single cell. scSLAM-seq recovers the earliest virus-induced changes in cytomegalovirus infection and reveals a so far hidden phase of viral gene expression comprising promiscuous transcription of all kinetic classes. It depicts the stochastic nature of transcription and demonstrates extensive gene-specific differences. These range from stable transcription rates to on-off dynamics which coincide with gene-/promoter-intrinsic features (Tbp-TATA-box interactions and DNA methylation). Gene but not cell-specific features thus explain the heterogeneity in transcriptomes between individual cells and the transcriptional response to perturbations.

Related Concepts

Cytomegalovirus Infections
Transcription, Genetic
Transcriptional Activation
DNA Methylation
RNA Metabolism

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