Mapping Cellular Coordinates through Advances in Spatial Transcriptomics Technology

Mol Cells. 2020 Jul 31;43(7):591-599. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2020.0020.


Complex cell-to-cell communication underlies the basic processes essential for homeostasis in the given tissue architecture. Obtaining quantitative gene-expression of cells in their native context has significantly advanced through single-cell RNA sequencing technologies along with mechanical and enzymatic tissue manipulation. This approach, however, is largely reliant on the physical dissociation of individual cells from the tissue, thus, resulting in a library with unaccounted positional information. To overcome this, positional information can be obtained by integrating imaging and positional barcoding. Collectively, spatial transcriptomics strategies provide tissue architecture-dependent as well as position-dependent cellular functions. This review discusses the current technologies for spatial transcriptomics ranging from the methods combining mechanical dissociation and single-cell RNA sequencing to computational spatial re-mapping.

Keywords: cellular communication; single-cell RNA; spatial transcriptomics; tissue architecture.