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Dev Cell. 2003 Mar;4(3):383-93.

Single-cell transcript analysis of pancreas development.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University, 7 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


DNA microarray analysis was combined with a modified single-cell PCR procedure to study gene expression profiles of single cells at different stages of pancreatic development. This method identifies distinct cell types at embryonic day 10.5, a stage when the pancreatic epithelium is morphologically uniform. Some cells express unexpected combinations of genes, and these expression patterns provide new insights into pancreas development. Following on these findings, we use PCR products from different cell types to identify novel pancreatic genes, some of which mark subtypes of developing pancreatic cells. By integrating these data with previous genetic and biochemical studies, we propose a pathway for pancreatic cell development. This form of single-cell transcriptional analysis can be applied to any developmental process or tissue to characterize distinct cell types.

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