The transcriptional programs that govern hematopoiesis have been investigated primarily by population-level analysis of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, which cannot reveal the continuous nature of the differentiation process. Here we applied single-cell RNA-sequencing to a population of hematopoietic cells in zebrafish as they undergo thrombocyte lineage commitment. By reconstructing their developmental chronology computationally, we were able to place each cell along a continuum from stem cell to mature cell, refining the traditional lineage tree. The progression of cells along this continuum is characterized by a highly coordinated transcriptional program, displaying simultaneous suppression of genes involved in cell proliferation and ribosomal biogenesis as the expression of lineage specific genes increases. Within this program, there is substantial heterogeneity in the expression of the key lineage regulators. Overall, the total number of genes expressed, as well as the total mRNA content of the cell, decreases as the cells undergo lineage commitment.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.