Single Cell Label-Free Probing of Chromatin Dynamics During B Lymphocyte Maturation

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 Mar 26;9:646616. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.646616. eCollection 2021.


Large-scale intracellular signaling during developmental growth or in response to environmental alterations are largely orchestrated by chromatin within the cell nuclei. Chemical and conformational modifications of the chromatin architecture are critical steps in the regulation of differential gene expression and ultimately cell fate determination. Therefore, establishing chemical properties of the nucleus could provide key markers for phenotypic characterization of cellular processes on a scale of individual cells. Raman microscopy is a sensitive technique that is capable of probing single cell chemical composition-and sub-cellular regions-in a label-free optical manner. As such, it has great potential in both clinical and basic research. However, perceived limitations of Raman spectroscopy such as low signal intensity and the difficulty in linking alterations in vibrational signals directly with ensuing biological effects have hampered advances in the field. Here we use immune B lymphocyte development as a model to assess chromatin and transcriptional changes using confocal Raman microscopy in combination with microfluidic devices and correlative transcriptomics, thereby linking changes in chemical and structural properties to biological outcomes. Live B lymphocytes were assessed before and after maturation. Multivariate analysis was applied to distinguish cellular components within each cell. The spectral differences between non-activated and activated B lymphocytes were then identified, and their correlation with known intracellular biological changes were assessed in comparison to conventional RNA-seq analysis. Our data shows that spectral analysis provides a powerful tool to study gene activation that can complement conventional molecular biology techniques and opens the way for mapping the dynamics in the biochemical makeup of individual cells.

Keywords: B cell; auxeticity; chromatin; microfluidics; nuclear architecture; vibrational spectroscopy.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.14135219.v1