Single cell RNA sequencing provides powerful insight into the factors that determine each cell's unique identity. Previous studies led to the surprising observation that alternative splicing among single cells is highly variable and follows a bimodal pattern: a given cell consistently produces either one or the other isoform for a particular splicing choice, with few cells producing both isoforms. Here we show that this pattern arises almost entirely from technical limitations. We analyze alternative splicing in human and mouse single cell RNA-seq datasets, and model them with a probabilistic simulator. Our simulations show that low gene expression and low capture efficiency distort the observed distribution of isoforms. This gives the appearance of binary splicing outcomes, even when the underlying reality is consistent with more than one isoform per cell. We show that accounting for the true amount of information recovered can produce biologically meaningful measurements of splicing in single cells.
All sequencing data reanalyzed in this study were acquired from GEO.
Single-cell analysis of allelic gene expression in pluripotency, differentiation and X-chromosome inactivationNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE74155.
Defining the early steps of cardiovascularlineage segregation by single cell RNA-seqNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE100471.
Pseudo-temporal ordering of individual cells reveals regulators of differentiationNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE52529.
Single-cell alternative splicing analysis with Expedition reveals splicing dynamics during neuron differentiationNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE85908.
Olfactory stem cell differentiation: horizontal basal cell (HBC) lineageNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE95601.
- Carlos F Buen Abad Najar
- Nir Yosef
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- L Stirling Churchman, Harvard Medical School, United States
© 2020, Buen Abad Najar et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification impacts mRNA fate primarily via reader proteins, which dictate processes in development, stress, and disease. Yet little is known about m6A function in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which occurs solely during early meiosis. Here we perform a multifaceted analysis of the m6A reader protein Pho92/Mrb1. Cross-linking immunoprecipitation analysis reveals that Pho92 associates with the 3’end of meiotic mRNAs in both an m6A-dependent and independent manner. Within cells, Pho92 transitions from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, and associates with translating ribosomes. In the nucleus Pho92 associates with target loci through its interaction with transcriptional elongator Paf1C. Functionally, we show that Pho92 promotes and links protein synthesis to mRNA decay. As such, the Pho92-mediated m6A-mRNA decay is contingent on active translation and the CCR4-NOT complex. We propose that the m6A reader Pho92 is loaded co-transcriptionally to facilitate protein synthesis and subsequent decay of m6A modified transcripts, and thereby promotes meiosis.
Transcription factors (TFs) are classically attributed a modular construction, containing well-structured sequence-specific DNA-binding domains (DBDs) paired with disordered activation domains (ADs) responsible for protein-protein interactions targeting co-factors or the core transcription initiation machinery. However, this simple division of labor model struggles to explain why TFs with identical DNA-binding sequence specificity determined in vitro exhibit distinct binding profiles in vivo. The family of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) offer a stark example: aberrantly expressed in several cancer types, HIF-1α and HIF-2α subunit isoforms recognize the same DNA motif in vitro – the hypoxia response element (HRE) – but only share a subset of their target genes in vivo, while eliciting contrasting effects on cancer development and progression under certain circumstances. To probe the mechanisms mediating isoform-specific gene regulation, we used live-cell single particle tracking (SPT) to investigate HIF nuclear dynamics and how they change upon genetic perturbation or drug treatment. We found that HIF-α subunits and their dimerization partner HIF-1β exhibit distinct diffusion and binding characteristics that are exquisitely sensitive to concentration and subunit stoichiometry. Using domain-swap variants, mutations, and a HIF-2α specific inhibitor, we found that although the DBD and dimerization domains are important, another main determinant of chromatin binding and diffusion behavior is the AD-containing intrinsically disordered region (IDR). Using Cut&Run and RNA-seq as orthogonal genomic approaches, we also confirmed IDR-dependent binding and activation of a specific subset of HIF target genes. These findings reveal a previously unappreciated role of IDRs in regulating the TF search and binding process that contribute to functional target site selectivity on chromatin.