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Bacterial Single Cell Whole Transcriptome Amplification in Microfluidic Platform Shows Putative Gene Expression Heterogeneity

Liu, Yuguang, Jeraldo, Patricio, Jang, Jin Sung, Eckloff, Bruce, Jen, Jin, Walther-Antonio, Marina
Analytical chemistry 2019 v.91 no.13 pp. 8036-8044
Porphyromonas, RNA, gene expression, gene expression regulation, sequence analysis, transcriptome, uterine neoplasms
Single cell RNA sequencing is a technology that provides the capability of analyzing the transcriptome of a single cell from a population. So far, single cell RNA sequencing has been focused mostly on human cells due to the larger starting amount of RNA template for subsequent amplification. One of the major challenges of applying single cell RNA sequencing to microbial cells is to amplify the femtograms of the RNA template to obtain sufficient material for downstream sequencing with minimal contamination. To achieve this goal, efforts have been focused on multiround RNA amplification, but would introduce additional contamination and bias. In this work, we for the first time coupled a microfluidic platform with multiple displacement amplification technology to perform single cell whole transcriptome amplification and sequencing of Porphyromonas somerae, a microbe of interest in endometrial cancer, as a proof-of-concept demonstration of using single cell RNA sequencing tool to unveil gene expression heterogeneity in single microbial cells. Our results show that the bacterial single-cell gene expression regulation is distinct across different cells, supporting widespread heterogeneity.