Deciphering cell states and genealogies of human haematopoiesis

Nature. 2024 Mar;627(8003):389-398. doi: 10.1038/s41586-024-07066-z. Epub 2024 Jan 22.


The human blood system is maintained through the differentiation and massive amplification of a limited number of long-lived haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs)1. Perturbations to this process underlie diverse diseases, but the clonal contributions to human haematopoiesis and how this changes with age remain incompletely understood. Although recent insights have emerged from barcoding studies in model systems2-5, simultaneous detection of cell states and phylogenies from natural barcodes in humans remains challenging. Here we introduce an improved, single-cell lineage-tracing system based on deep detection of naturally occurring mitochondrial DNA mutations with simultaneous readout of transcriptional states and chromatin accessibility. We use this system to define the clonal architecture of HSCs and map the physiological state and output of clones. We uncover functional heterogeneity in HSC clones, which is stable over months and manifests as both differences in total HSC output and biases towards the production of different mature cell types. We also find that the diversity of HSC clones decreases markedly with age, leading to an oligoclonal structure with multiple distinct clonal expansions. Our study thus provides a clonally resolved and cell-state-aware atlas of human haematopoiesis at single-cell resolution, showing an unappreciated functional diversity of human HSC clones and, more broadly, paving the way for refined studies of clonal dynamics across a range of tissues in human health and disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Clone Cells / classification
  • Clone Cells / cytology
  • Clone Cells / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells* / classification
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells* / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Mitochondrial