Epigenetics reloaded: the single-cell revolution

Trends Cell Biol. 2014 Nov;24(11):712-23. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2014.08.010. Epub 2014 Oct 3.


Mechanistically, how epigenetic states are inherited through cellular divisions remains an important open question in the chromatin field and beyond. Defining the heritability of epigenetic states and the underlying chromatin-based mechanisms within a population of cells is complicated due to cell heterogeneity combined with varying levels of stability of these states; thus, efforts must be focused toward single-cell analyses. The approaches presented here constitute the forefront of epigenetics research at the single-cell level using classic and innovative methods to dissect epigenetics mechanisms from the limited material available in a single cell. This review further outlines exciting future avenues of research to address the significance of epigenetic heterogeneity and the contributions of microfluidics technologies to single-cell isolation and analysis.

Keywords: epigenetics; epigenomics; live cell; microfluidics; single cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Microfluidics
  • Nucleosomes
  • Single-Cell Analysis* / instrumentation
  • Single-Cell Analysis* / methods


  • Chromatin
  • Nucleosomes