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Title: Three-dimensional intact-tissue sequencing of single-cell transcriptional states.
The mammalian brain consists of an intricate tapestry of cell types, with diversity crucial for function that arises from both differential gene expression and circuit-specific anatomy. Yet, retrieving high-content gene-expression information while retaining 3D positional anatomy at cellular resolution has been difficult, limiting integrative understanding of brain structure and function. Here we introduce and apply a technology for 3D intact-tissue RNA sequencing, termed STARmap (Spatially-resolved Transcript Amplicon Readout Mapping), which integrates highly-specific signal amplification, novel hydrogel-tissue chemistry, and an error-reduction sequencing process. The capabilities of STARmap were tested by mapping from 160 to 1,020 distinct genes simultaneously in sections of mouse brain at single-cell resolution with unprecedented efficiency, accuracy and reproducibility. These experiments led to the discovery of multiple new neocortical cell types, with gene markers and spatial patterns of organization not previously described, by comparison of the molecularly-defined architectures of sensory versus cognitive neocortex, and by quantification of expression of activity-regulated genes as a function of stimulation condition, spatial position, and cell typology. By adapting STARmap to thick tissue blocks, we observed and confirmed a novel molecularly-defined gradient distribution of excitatory neuron subtypes across cubic millimeter-scale volumes (>30,000 cells), and discovered a short-range 3D pattern of self-clustering shared by many inhibitory neuron subtypes that was accurately identifiable with a 3D STARmap approach.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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