Single cell transcriptomics in neuroscience: cell classification and beyond

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2018 Jun;50:242-249. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.04.021. Epub 2018 May 5.


Biology has been facing a daunting problem since the cell was understood to be the building block of metazoans: how do we study multicellular systems, when a universal approach to characterize their building blocks and classify them does not exist? Metazoan diversity has not helped: there are many model and non-model organisms, developmental and adult stages, healthy and diseased states. Here, I review the application of single cell transcriptomics to cell classification in neuroscience and its corollaries: the differentially expressed genes discovered in this process are a treasure trove for understanding cell type function and enabling specific access to those types. The advancements and widespread adoption of single-cell transcriptomics are bound to transform our understanding of neural system development, function, pathology and evolution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Humans
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurosciences*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods
  • Transcriptome / physiology*