• Nature Biotechnology 06/2014; 32(6):543-544. DOI:10.1038/nbt.2921 · 41.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell populations can be strikingly heterogeneous, composed of multiple cellular states, each exhibiting stochastic noise in its gene expression. A major challenge is to disentangle these two types of variability and to understand the dynamic processes and mechanisms that control them. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) provide an ideal model system to address this issue because they exhibit heterogeneous and dynamic expression of functionally important regulatory factors. We analyzed gene expression in individual ESCs using single-molecule RNA-FISH and quantitative time-lapse movies. These data discriminated stochastic switching between two coherent (correlated) gene expression states and burst-like transcriptional noise. We further showed that the "2i" signaling pathway inhibitors modulate both types of variation. Finally, we found that DNA methylation plays a key role in maintaining these metastable states. Together, these results show how ESC gene expression states and dynamics arise from a combination of intrinsic noise, coherent cellular states, and epigenetic regulation.
    Molecular Cell 07/2014; 55(2):319-31. DOI:10.1016/j.molcel.2014.06.029 · 14.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the structure-function relationships at cellular, circuit, and organ-wide scale requires 3D anatomical and phenotypical maps, currently unavailable for many organs across species. At the root of this knowledge gap is the absence of a method that enables whole-organ imaging. Herein, we present techniques for tissue clearing in which whole organs and bodies are rendered macromolecule-permeable and optically transparent, thereby exposing their cellular structure with intact connectivity. We describe PACT (passive clarity technique), a protocol for passive tissue clearing and immunostaining of intact organs; RIMS (refractive index matching solution), a mounting media for imaging thick tissue; and PARS (perfusion-assisted agent release in situ), a method for whole-body clearing and immunolabeling. We show that in rodents PACT, RIMS, and PARS are compatible with endogenous-fluorescence, immunohistochemistry, RNA single-molecule FISH, long-term storage, and microscopy with cellular and subcellular resolution. These methods are applicable for high-resolution, high-content mapping and phenotyping of normal and pathological elements within intact organs and bodies.
    Cell 07/2014; 158(4). DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.07.017 · 32.24 Impact Factor
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