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Annu Rev Genet. 2016 Nov 23;50:267-291.

Single-Cell and Single-Molecule Analysis of Gene Expression Regulation.

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Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY 10461; email: , , ,
Janelia Research Campus of the HHMI, Ashburn, Virginia 20147.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Seoul, 08826, Korea; email:
Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Seoul National University, Seoul, 08826, Korea.


Recent advancements in single-cell and single-molecule imaging technologies have resolved biological processes in time and space that are fundamental to understanding the regulation of gene expression. Observations of single-molecule events in their cellular context have revealed highly dynamic aspects of transcriptional and post-transcriptional control in eukaryotic cells. This approach can relate transcription with mRNA abundance and lifetimes. Another key aspect of single-cell analysis is the cell-to-cell variability among populations of cells. Definition of heterogeneity has revealed stochastic processes, determined characteristics of under-represented cell types or transitional states, and integrated cellular behaviors in the context of multicellular organisms. In this review, we discuss novel aspects of gene expression of eukaryotic cells and multicellular organisms revealed by the latest advances in single-cell and single-molecule imaging technology.


gene expression; mRNA localization; single cell; single-molecule imaging; transcription; translation

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