Cellular heterogeneity: do differences make a difference?

Cell. 2010 May 14;141(4):559-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.04.033.


A central challenge of biology is to understand how individual cells process information and respond to perturbations. Much of our knowledge is based on ensemble measurements. However, cell-to-cell differences are always present to some degree in any cell population, and the ensemble behaviors of a population may not represent the behaviors of any individual cell. Here, we discuss examples of when heterogeneity cannot be ignored and describe practical strategies for analyzing and interpreting cellular heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / cytology
  • Cells / chemistry*
  • Cells / metabolism*
  • Cytological Techniques
  • Drosophila