Single-cell technologies in reproductive immunology

Vazquez, J., Ong, I.M., Stanic, A.K. et al.

The maternal-fetal interface represents a unique immune privileged site that maintains the ability to defend against pathogens while orchestrating the necessary tissue remodeling required for placentation. The recent discovery of novel cellular families (innate lymphoid cells, tissue-resident NK cells) suggests that our understanding of the decidual immunome is incomplete. To understand this complex milieu, new technological developments allow reproductive immunologists to collect increasingly complex data at a cellular resolution. Polychromatic flow cytometry allows for greater resolution in the identification of novel cell types by surface and intracellular protein. Single-cell RNA-seq coupled with microfluidics allows for efficient cellular transcriptomics. The extreme dimensionality and size of data sets generated, however, requires the application of novel computational approaches for unbiased analysis. There are now multiple dimensionality reduction (tSNE, SPADE) and visualization tools (SPICE) that allow researchers to efficiently analyze flow cytometry data. Development of computational tools has also been extended to RNA-seq data (including scRNA-seq), which requires specific analytical tools. Here, we provide an overview and a brief primer for the reproductive immunology community on data acquisition and computational tools for the analysis of complex flow cytometry and RNA-seq data.


Vazquez, J., Ong, I.M., Stanic, A.K. et al. "Single-cell technologies in reproductive immunology" American Journal of Reproductive Immunology (2019): e13157