Single-cell DNA and RNA sequencing of circulating tumor cells

Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 24;11(1):22864. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-02165-7.


Single-cell sequencing of circulating tumor cells can precisely represent tumor heterogeneity and provide useful information for cancer treatment and research. After spiking TGW neuroblastoma cells into blood derived from healthy volunteer, the cells were isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. DNA and mRNA were amplified by four different whole-genome amplifications (WGA) and three whole-transcriptome amplifications (WTA) methods, followed by single-cell DNA and RNA sequencing. Multiple displacement amplification (MDA)-based WGA methods showed higher amplification efficiency than other methods with a comparable depth of coverage as the bulk sample. The uniformity of coverage greatly differed among samples (12.5-89.2%), with some samples evaluated by the MDA-based WGA method using phi29 DNA polymerase and random primers showing a high (> 80%) uniformity of coverage. The MDA-based WTA method less effectively amplified mRNA and showed non-specific gene expression patterns. The PCR-based WTA using template switching with locked nucleic acid technology accurately amplified mRNA from a single cell. Taken together, our results present a more reliable and adaptable approach for CTC profiling at the single-cell level. Such molecular information on CTCs derived from clinical patients will promote cancer treatment and research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / chemistry*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology
  • Neuroblastoma / blood
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA*
  • Single-Cell Analysis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • RNA, Neoplasm