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1.  Single Cell Mass Cytometry for Analysis of Immune System Functional States 
Current opinion in immunology  2013;25(4):10.1016/j.coi.2013.07.004.
Single cell mass cytometry facilitates high-dimensional, quantitative analysis of the effects of bioactive molecules on cell populations at single-cell resolution. Datasets are generated with antibody panels (upwards of 40) in which each antibody is conjugated to a polymer chelated with a stable metal isotope, usually in the Lanthanide series of the periodic table. Isotope labelled antibodies recognize surface markers to delineate cell types and intracellular signaling molecules to provide a measure of the network state—and thereby demarcating multiple cell state functions such as apoptosis, DNA damage and cell cycle. By measuring all these parameters simultaneously, the signaling state of an individual cell can be measured at its network state. This review will cover the basics of mass cytometry as well as outline steps already taken to allow it to stand aside traditional fluorescence based cytometry in the immunologist’s analytical arsenal in their study of immune states during infection.
PMCID: PMC3835664  PMID: 23999316
Mass cytometry; flow cytometry; drug discovery; pathogens; animal models
2.  The T cell STAT signaling network is reprogrammed within hours of bacteremia via secondary signals1 
The delicate balance between protective immunity and inflammatory disease is challenged during sepsis, a pathologic state characterized by aspects of both a hyper-active immune response and immunosuppression. The events driven by systemic infection by bacterial pathogens on the T cell signaling network that likely control these responses have not been illustrated in great detail. We characterized how intracellular signaling within the immune compartment is reprogrammed at the single cell level when the host is challenged with a high levels of pathogen. To accomplish this, we applied flow cytometry to measure the phosphorylation potential of key signal transduction proteins during acute bacterial challenge. We modeled the onset of sepsis by intravenous administration of avirulent strains of Listeria and E. coli to mice. Within six hours of bacterial challenge, T cells were globally restricted in their ability to respond to specific cytokine stimulations as determined by assessing the extent of STAT protein phosphorylation. Mechanisms by which this negative feedback response occurred included SOCS1 and SOCS3 gene up regulation and IL-6 induced endocystosis of the IL-6 receptor. In addition, macrophages were partially tolerized in their ability to respond to TLR agonists. Thus, in contrast to the view that there is a wholesale immune activation during sepsis, one immediate host response to blood borne bacteria was induction of a refractory period during which leukocyte activation by specific stimulations was attenuated.
PMCID: PMC4136495  PMID: 19494279
Bacteria; T cell; macrophage; cytokine; signal transduction
3.  A platinum-based covalent viability reagent for single cell mass cytometry 
In fluorescence-based flow cytometry, cellular viability is determined with membrane-impermeable fluorescent reagents that specifically enter and label plasma membrane-compromised non-viable cells. A recent technological advance in flow cytometry uses antibodies conjugated to elemental metal isotopes, rather than to fluorophores, to allow signal detection by atomic mass spectrometry. Unhampered by the limitations of overlapping emission fluorescence, mass cytometry increases the number of parameters that can be measured in single cells. However, mass cytometry is unable to take advantage of current fluorescent viability dyes. An alternative methodology was therefore developed here in which the platinum-containing chemotherapy drug cisplatin was used to label cells for mass cytometry determinations of live/dead ratios. In a one-minute incubation step, cisplatin preferentially labeled non-viable cells, from both adherent and suspension cultures, resulting in a platinum signal quantifiable by mass cytometry. This protocol was compatible with established sample processing steps for cytometry. Furthermore, the live/dead ratios were comparable between mass and fluorescence based cytometry. Importantly, although cisplatin is a known DNA-damaging agent, a one-minute “pulse” of cisplatin did not induce observable DNA damage or apoptotic responses even within 6 hours post-exposure. Cisplatin can therefore be used as a viability reagent for a wide range of mass cytometry protocols.
PMCID: PMC3808967  PMID: 22577098
Mass cytometry; cisplatin; viability reagent
4.  Multiplexed mass cytometry profiling of cellular states perturbed by small-molecule regulators 
Nature biotechnology  2012;30(9):858-867.
The ability to comprehensively explore the impact of bio-active molecules on human samples at the single-cell level can provide great insight for biomedical research. Mass cytometry enables quantitative single-cell analysis with deep dimensionality, but currently lacks high-throughput capability. Here we report a method termed mass-tag cellular barcoding (MCB) that increases mass cytometry throughput by sample multiplexing. 96-well format MCB was used to characterize human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) signaling dynamics, cell-to-cell communication, the signaling variability between 8 donors, and to define the impact of 27 inhibitors on this system. For each compound, 14 phosphorylation sites were measured in 14 PBMC types, resulting in 18,816 quantified phosphorylation levels from each multiplexed sample. This high-dimensional systems-level inquiry allowed analysis across cell-type and signaling space, reclassified inhibitors, and revealed off-target effects. MCB enables high-content, high-throughput screening, with potential applications for drug discovery, pre-clinical testing, and mechanistic investigation of human disease.
PMCID: PMC3627543  PMID: 22902532
5.  Tyramide signal amplification for analysis of kinase activity by intracellular flow cytometry 
Intracellular flow cytometry permits quantitation of diverse molecular targets at the single-cell level. However, limitations in detection sensitivity inherently restrict the method, sometimes resulting in the inability to measure proteins of very low abundance or to differentiate cells expressing subtly different protein concentrations. To improve these measurements, an enzymatic amplification approach called tyramide signal amplification (TSA) was optimized for assessment of intracellular kinase cascades. First, Pacific Blue, Pacific Orange, and Alexa Fluor 488 tyramide reporters were shown to exhibit low non-specific binding in permeabilized cells. Next, the effects of antibody concentration, tyramide concentration, and reaction time on assay resolution were characterized. Use of optimized TSA resulted in a 10-fold or greater improvement in measurement resolution of endogenous Erk and Stat cell signaling pathways relative to standard, non-amplified detection. TSA also enhanced assay sensitivity and, in conjunction with fluorescent cell barcoding, improved assay performance according to a metric used to evaluate high-throughput drug screens. TSA was used to profile Stat1 phosphorylation in primary immune system cells, which revealed heterogeneity in various populations, including CD4+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells. We anticipate the approach will be broadly applicable to intracellular flow cytometry assays with low signal-to-noise ratios.
PMCID: PMC3036012  PMID: 20824632
flow cytometry; intracellular flow cytometry; phospho flow; tyramide signal amplification; catalyzed reporter deposition; enzymatic amplification staining; cell signaling; signal transduction; cell-based assay; background
Cell host & microbe  2010;8(2):174-185.
Although vaccinia virus infection results in induction of a robust immunizing response, many closely related poxviruses such as variola (smallpox) and ectromelia (mousepox) are highly pathogenic in their natural hosts. We developed a strategy to map the activation of key signaling networks in vivo and applied this approach to define and compare the earliest signaling events elicited by poxvirus infections in mice. Vaccinia induced rapid TLR2-dependent responses leading to IL-6 production, which then initiated STAT3 signaling in dendritic cells and T cells. In contrast, ectromelia did not induce TLR2 activation and profound mouse strain-dependent responses were observed. In resistant C57BL/6 mice, the STAT1 and STAT3 pathways were rapidly activated, whereas in susceptible BALB/c mice, IL-6-dependent STAT3 activation did not occur. These results indicate that vaccination with vaccinia is dependent on rapid TLR2 and IL-6 driven responses and link the earliest immune signaling events to the outcome of infection.
PMCID: PMC2940993  PMID: 20709294
7.  Coordinated Surgical Immune Signatures Contain Correlates of Clinical Recovery 
Science translational medicine  2014;6(255):255ra131.
Delayed recovery from surgery causes personal suffering and substantial societal and economic costs. Whether immune mechanisms determine recovery after surgical trauma remains ill-defined. Single-cell mass cytometry was applied to serial whole blood samples from 32 patients undergoing hip replacement to comprehensively characterize the phenotypical and functional immune response to surgical trauma. The simultaneous analysis of 14,000 phosphorylation events in precisely phenotyped immune cell subsets revealed uniform signaling responses among patients, demarcating a surgical immune signature. When regressed against clinical parameters of surgical recovery, including functional impairment and pain, strong correlations were found with STAT3, CREB and NF-kB signaling responses in subsets of CD14+ monocytes (R=0.7–0.8, FDR < 0.01). These sentinel results demonstrate the capacity of mass cytometry to survey the human immune system in a relevant clinical context. The mechanistically derived immune correlates point to diagnostic signatures, and potential therapeutic targets, that could postoperatively improve patient recovery.
PMCID: PMC4334126  PMID: 25253674
8.  Conditional Density-based Analysis of T cell Signaling in Single Cell Data 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2014;346(6213):1250689.
Cellular circuits sense the environment, process signals, and compute decisions using networks of interacting proteins. To model such a system, the abundance of each activated protein species can be described as a stochastic function of the abundance of other proteins. High-dimensional single-cell technologies, like mass cytometry, offer an opportunity to characterize signaling circuit-wide. However, the challenge of developing and applying computational approaches to interpret such complex data remains. Here, we developed computational methods, based on established statistical concepts, to characterize signaling network relationships by quantifying the strengths of network edges and deriving signaling response functions. In comparing signaling between naïve and antigen-exposed CD4+ T-lymphocytes, we find that although these two cell subtypes had similarly-wired networks, naïve cells transmitted more information along a key signaling cascade than did antigen-exposed cells. We validated our characterization on mice lacking the extracellular-regulated MAP kinase (ERK2), which showed stronger influence of pERK on pS6 (phosphorylated-ribosomal protein S6), in naïve cells compared to antigen-exposed cells, as predicted. We demonstrate that by using cell-to-cell variation inherent in single cell data, we can algorithmically derive response functions underlying molecular circuits and drive the understanding of how cells process signals.
PMCID: PMC4334155  PMID: 25342659
9.  New technologies for autoimmune disease monitoring 
Purpose of review
This article will review new technologies used to characterize the immune phenotype of cells and serum for potential use in studies of autoimmunity.
Recent findings
One area of recent development in studies of immune phenotyping is the contrast between cells of the immune system at rest and following activation. This simply involves comparing these cells at rest and following ligand-induced activation and measuring signaling system activation (phosphoepitope identification) or intracellular cytokine production or activation-induced gene expression. Preliminary data using these techniques have begun to identify signatures of disease (biomarkers) that are only seen when using these activation-induced assays. One of the most exciting new technologies, cytometry by time-of-flight mass spectrometry, couples a flow cytometer to a mass spectrometer, allowing many more parameters to be analyzed per cell, and without spillover between assay reagents, compared to conventional optical flow cytometry (heavy ions, mass, replaces fluorophore readout). Another new technology to analyze soluble proteins, bead-based immunoassays, can simultaneously measure up to 75 soluble analytes in a multiplexed array. Other technologies provide similar innovations in terms of analytical content, throughput, and miniaturization.
We believe that new cellular genomic and protein-based technologies can provide key insights into autoimmune disease pathogenesis, progression, and therapy, and that these assays need to be applied in a systematic way to samples from patients with autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4311749  PMID: 20531181
cytometry by time-of-flight mass spectrometry; intracellular cytokine assays; multiplexed immunoassays; phosphoepitope
10.  WebFlow: A Software Package for High-Throughput Analysis of Flow Cytometry Data 
Flow cytometry has emerged as a powerful tool for quantitative, single-cell analysis of both surface markers and intracellular antigens, including phosphoproteins and kinase signaling cascades, with the flexibility to process hundreds of samples in multiwell plate format. Quantitative flow cytometric analysis is being applied in many areas of biology, from the study of immunology in animal models or human patients to high-content drug screening of pharmacologically active compounds. However, these experiments generate thousands of data points per sample, each with multiple measured parameters, leading to data management and analysis challenges. We developed WebFlow (, a web server-based software package to manage, analyze, and visualize data from flow cytometry experiments. WebFlow is accessible via standard web browsers and does not require users to install software on their personal computers. The software enables plate-based annotation of large data sets, which provides the basis for exploratory data analysis tools and rapid visualization of multiple different parameters. These tools include custom user-defined statistics to normalize data to other wells or other channels, as well as interactive, user-selectable heat maps for viewing the underlying single-cell data. The web-based approach of WebFlow allows for sharing of data with collaborators or the general public. WebFlow provides a novel platform for quantitative analysis of flow cytometric data from high-throughput drug screening or disease profiling experiments.
PMCID: PMC2956679  PMID: 19187010
11.  Genomic and Proteomic Analysis Reveals a Threshold Level of MYC Required for Tumor Maintenance 
Cancer research  2008;68(13):5132-5142.
MYC overexpression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of most types of human cancers. MYC is likely to contribute to tumorigenesis by its effects on global gene expression. Previously, we have shown that the loss of MYC overexpression is sufficient to reverse tumorigenesis. Here, we show that there is a precise threshold level of MYC expression required for maintaining the tumor phenotype, whereupon there is a switch from a gene expression program of proliferation to a state of proliferative arrest and apoptosis. Oligonucleotide microarray analysis and quantitative PCR were used to identify changes in expression in 3,921 genes, of which 2,348 were down-regulated and 1,573 were up-regulated. Critical changes in gene expression occurred at or near the MYC threshold, including genes implicated in the regulation of the G1-S and G2-M cell cycle checkpoints and death receptor/apoptosis signaling. Using two-dimensional protein analysis followed by mass spectrometry, phospho-flow fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and antibody arrays, we also identified changes at the protein level that contributed to MYC-dependent tumor regression. Proteins involved in mRNA translation decreased below threshold levels of MYC. Thus, at the MYC threshold, there is a loss of its ability to maintain tumorigenesis, with associated shifts in gene and protein expression that reestablish cell cycle checkpoints, halt protein translation, and promote apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC4191850  PMID: 18593912
12.  Multiplexed ion beam imaging (MIBI) of human breast tumors 
Nature medicine  2014;20(4):436-442.
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a tool for visualizing protein expression employed as part of the diagnostic work-up for the majority of solid tissue malignancies. Existing IHC methods use antibodies tagged with fluorophores or enzyme reporters that generate colored pigments. Because these reporters exhibit spectral and spatial overlap when used simultaneously, multiplexed IHC is not routinely used in clinical settings. We have developed a method that uses secondary ion mass spectrometry to image antibodies tagged with isotopically pure elemental metal reporters. Multiplexed ion beam imaging (MIBI) is capable of analyzing up to 100 targets simultaneously over a five-log dynamic range. Here, we used MIBI to analyze formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) human breast tumor tissue sections stained with ten labels simultaneously. The resulting data suggest that MIBI will provide new insights by integrating tissue microarchitecture with highly multiplexed protein expression patterns, and will be valuable for basic research, drug discovery and clinical diagnostics.
PMCID: PMC4110905  PMID: 24584119
13.  Novel hematopoietic progenitor populations revealed by direct assessment of GATA1 protein expression and cMPL signaling events 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2011;29(11):1774-1782.
Hematopoietic stem cells must exhibit tight regulation of both self-renewal and differentiation in order to maintain homeostasis of the hematopoietic system, as well as to avoid aberrations in growth that may result in leukemias or other disorders. In this study, we sought to understand the molecular basis of lineage determination, with particular focus on factors that influence megakaryocyte/erythrocyte-lineage commitment, in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. We used intracellular flow cytometry to identify two novel hematopoietic progenitor populations within the mouse bone-marrow cKit(+) Lineage (−) Sca1(+) [KLS] Flk2 (+) compartment that differ in their protein-level expression of GATA1, a critical megakaryocyte/erythrocyte-promoting transcription factor. GATA1-high repopulating cells exhibited the cell surface phenotype KLS Flk2(+ to int), CD150(int), CD105(+), cMPL(+), and were termed ‘FSE cells’. GATA1-low progenitors were identified as KLS Flk2(+), CD150(−), cMPL(−), and were termed ‘Flk(+) CD150(−) cells’. FSE cells had increased megakaryocyte/platelet potential in culture and transplant settings and exhibited a higher clonal frequency of CFU-S activity compared to Flk(+) CD150(−) cells, suggesting functional consequences of GATA1 upregulation in promoting megakaryocyte and erythroid lineage priming. Activation of ERK and AKT signal-transduction cascades was observed by intracellular flow cytometry in long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSC) and FSE cells, but not in Flk(+) CD150(−) cells in response to stimulation with thrombopoietin (TPO), an important megakaryocyte-promoting cytokine. We provide a mechanistic rationale for megakaryocyte/erythroid bias within KLS Flk2(+) cells, and demonstrate how assessment of intracellular factors and signaling events can be used to refine our understanding of lineage commitment during early definitive hematopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC4100980  PMID: 21898686
14.  viSNE enables visualization of high dimensional single-cell data and reveals phenotypic heterogeneity of leukemia 
Nature biotechnology  2013;31(6):545-552.
High-dimensional single-cell technologies are revolutionizing the way we understand biological systems. Technologies such as mass cytometry measure dozens of parameters simultaneously in individual cells, making interpretation daunting. We developed viSNE, a tool to map high-dimensional cytometry data onto 2D while conserving high-dimensional structure. We integrated mass cytometry with viSNE to map healthy and cancerous bone marrow samples. Healthy bone marrow maps into a canonical shape that separates between immune subtypes. In leukemia, however, the shape is malformed: the maps of cancer samples are distinct from the healthy map and from each other. viSNE highlights structure in the heterogeneity of surface phenotype expression in cancer, traverses the progression from diagnosis to relapse, and identifies a rare leukemia population in minimal residual disease settings. As several new technologies raise the number of simultaneously measured parameters in each cell to the hundreds, viSNE will become a mainstay in analyzing and interpreting such experiments.
PMCID: PMC4076922  PMID: 23685480
15.  Joint Modeling and Registration of Cell Populations in Cohorts of High-Dimensional Flow Cytometric Data 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100334.
In biomedical applications, an experimenter encounters different potential sources of variation in data such as individual samples, multiple experimental conditions, and multivariate responses of a panel of markers such as from a signaling network. In multiparametric cytometry, which is often used for analyzing patient samples, such issues are critical. While computational methods can identify cell populations in individual samples, without the ability to automatically match them across samples, it is difficult to compare and characterize the populations in typical experiments, such as those responding to various stimulations or distinctive of particular patients or time-points, especially when there are many samples. Joint Clustering and Matching (JCM) is a multi-level framework for simultaneous modeling and registration of populations across a cohort. JCM models every population with a robust multivariate probability distribution. Simultaneously, JCM fits a random-effects model to construct an overall batch template – used for registering populations across samples, and classifying new samples. By tackling systems-level variation, JCM supports practical biomedical applications involving large cohorts. Software for fitting the JCM models have been implemented in an R package EMMIX-JCM, available from
PMCID: PMC4077578  PMID: 24983991
16.  Proceedings from the 2009 Genetic Syndromes of the Ras/MAPK Pathway: From Bedside to Bench and Back 
The RASopathies are a group of genetic syndromes caused by germline mutations in genes that encode components of the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Some of these syndromes are neurofibromatosis type 1, Noonan syndrome, Costello syndrome, cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome, LEOPARD syndrome and Legius syndrome. Their common underlying pathogenetic mechanism brings about significant overlap in phenotypic features and includes craniofacial dysmorphology, cardiac, cutaneous, musculoskeletal, GI and ocular abnormalities, and a predisposition to cancer. The proceedings from the symposium “Genetic Syndromes of the Ras/MAPK Pathway: From Bedside to Bench and Back” chronicle the timely and typical research symposium which brought together clinicians, basic scientists, physician-scientists, advocate leaders, trainees, students and individuals with Ras syndromes and their families. The goals, to discuss basic science and clinical issues, to set forth a solid framework for future research, to direct translational applications towards therapy and to set forth best practices for individuals with RASopathies was successfully meet with a commitment to begin to move towards clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4051786  PMID: 20014119
Cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome; clinical trial; Costello syndrome; neurofibromatosis type 1; Noonan syndrome; Legius syndrome; Ras/MAPK; signal transduction pathway; RASopathies; therapy
17.  Normalization of mass cytometry data with bead standards 
Mass cytometry uses atomic mass spectrometry combined with isotopically pure reporter elements to currently measure as many as 40 parameters per single cell. As with any quantitative technology, there is a fundamental need for quality assurance and normalization protocols. In the case of mass cytometry, the signal variation over time due to changes in instrument performance combined with intervals between scheduled maintenance must be accounted for and then normalized. Here, samples were mixed with polystyrene beads embedded with metal lanthanides, allowing monitoring of mass cytometry instrument performance over multiple days of data acquisition. The protocol described here includes simultaneous measurements of beads and cells on the mass cytometer, subsequent extraction of the bead-based signature, and the application of an algorithm enabling correction of both short- and long-term signal fluctuations. The variation in the intensity of the beads that remains after normalization may also be used to determine data quality. Application of the algorithm to a one-month longitudinal analysis of a human peripheral blood sample reduced the range of median signal fluctuation from 4.9-fold to 1.3-fold.
PMCID: PMC3688049  PMID: 23512433
18.  Snapin, Positive Regulator of Stimulation- Induced Ca2+ Release through RyR, Is Necessary for HIV-1 Replication in T Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75297.
To identify critical host factors necessary for human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) replication, large libraries of short-peptide-aptamers were expressed retrovirally. The target of one inhibitor peptide, Pep80, identified in this screen was determined to be Snapin, a protein associated with the soluble N-ethyl maleimide sensitive factor adaptor protein receptor (SNARE) complex that is critical for calcium-dependent exocytosis during neurotransmission. Pep80 inhibited Ca2+ release from intracellular stores and blocked downstream signaling by direct interruption of the association between Snapin and an intracellular calcium release channel, the ryanodine receptor (RyR). NFAT signaling was preferentially abolished by Pep80. Expression of Snapin overcame Pep80-mediated inhibition of Ca2+/NFAT signaling and HIV-1 replication. Furthermore, Snapin induced HIV-1 replication in primary CD4+ T cells. Thus, through its interaction with RyR, Snapin is a critical regulator of Ca2+ signaling and T cell activation. Use of the genetically selected intracellular aptamer inhibitors allowed us to define unique mechanisms important to HIV-1 replication and T cell biology.
PMCID: PMC3794929  PMID: 24130701
19.  CytoSPADE: high-performance analysis and visualization of high-dimensional cytometry data 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(18):2400-2401.
Motivation: Recent advances in flow cytometry enable simultaneous single-cell measurement of 30+ surface and intracellular proteins. CytoSPADE is a high-performance implementation of an interface for the Spanning-tree Progression Analysis of Density-normalized Events algorithm for tree-based analysis and visualization of this high-dimensional cytometry data.
Availability: Source code and binaries are freely available at and via Bioconductor version 2.10 onwards for Linux, OSX and Windows. CytoSPADE is implemented in R, C++ and Java.
Supplementary Information: Additional documentation available at
PMCID: PMC3436846  PMID: 22782546
20.  Cytometry by Time-of-Flight Shows Combinatorial Cytokine Expression and Virus-Specific Cell Niches within a Continuum of CD8+ T Cell Phenotypes 
Immunity  2012;36(1):142-152.
Cytotoxic CD8+ T lymphocytes directly kill infected or aberrant cells and secrete proinflammatory cytokines. By using metal-labeled probes and mass spectrometric analysis (cytometry by time-of-flight, or CyTOF) of human CD8+ T cells, we analyzed the expression of many more proteins than previously possible with fluorescent labels, including surface markers, cytokines, and antigen specificity with modified peptide-MHC tetramers. With 3-dimensional principal component analysis (3D-PCA) to display phenotypic diversity, we observed a relatively uniform pattern of variation in all subjects tested, highlighting the interrelatedness of previously described subsets and the continuous nature of CD8+ T cell differentiation. These data also showed much greater complexity in the CD8+ T cell compartment than previously appreciated, including a nearly combinatorial pattern of cytokine expression, with distinct niches occupied by virus-specific cells. This large degree of functional diversity even between cells with the same specificity gives CD8+ T cells a remarkable degree of flexibility in responding to pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3752833  PMID: 22265676
21.  A Deep Profiler’s Guide to Cytometry 
Trends in Immunology  2012;33(7):323-332.
In recent years, advances in technology have provided us with tools to quantify the expression of multiple genes in individual cells. The ability to simultaneously measure multiple genes on the same cell is necessary to resolve the incredible diversity of cell subsets, as well as to define their function in the host. Fluorescence-based flow cytometry is the benchmark for this; with it, we can quantify 18 proteins per cell, at >10,000 cells per second. “Mass cytometry” is a new technology that promises to significantly extend these capabilities. Immunophenotyping by mass spectrometry provides the ability to measure more than three dozen proteins at a rate of 1,000 cells per second. We review these cytometric technologies, capable of high-content, high-throughput single-cell assays.
PMCID: PMC3383392  PMID: 22476049
Fluorescence; Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry; Single Cell Analysis; Immunophenotyping; Data Analysis
22.  Single Cell Mass Cytometry Adapted to Measurements of the Cell Cycle1 
Mass cytometry is a recently introduced technology that utilizes transition element isotope-tagged antibodies for protein detection on a single-cell basis. By circumventing the limitations of emission spectral overlap associated with fluorochromes utilized in traditional flow cytometry, mass cytometry currently allows measurement of up to 40 parameters per cell. Recently a comprehensive mass cytometry analysis was described for the hematopoietic differentiation program in human bone marrow from a healthy donor. The present study describes approaches to delineate cell cycle stages utilizing iododeoxyuridine (IdU) to mark cells in S phase, simultaneously with antibodies against cyclin B1, cyclin A, and phosphorylated histone H3 (S28) that characterize the other cell cycle phases. Protocols were developed in which an antibody against phosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (Rb) at serines 807 and 811 was used to separate cells in G0 and G1 phases of the cell cycle. This mass cytometry method yielded cell cycle distributions of both normal and cancer cell populations that were equivalent to those obtained by traditional fluorescence cytometry techniques. We applied this to map the cell cycle phases of cells spanning the hematopoietic hierarchy in healthy human bone marrow as a prelude to later studies with cancers and other disorders of this lineage.
PMCID: PMC3667754  PMID: 22693166
Mass Cytometry; Cell Cycle; Flow Cytometry; Retinoblastoma; iododeoxyuridine; hematopoiesis
23.  Decoupling of Tumor-Initiating Activity from Stable Immunophenotype In HoxA9-Meis1 Driven AML 
Cell Stem Cell  2012;10(2):210-217.
Increasing evidence suggests tumors are maintained by cancer stem cells; however, their nature remains controversial. In a HoxA9-Meis1 (H9M) model of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), we found that tumor-initiating activity existed in three, immunophenotypically distinct compartments, corresponding to disparate lineages on the normal hematopoietic hierarchy—stem/progenitor cells (Lin−kit+), and committed progenitors of the myeloid (Gr1+kit+) and lymphoid lineages (Lym+kit+). These distinct tumor-initiating cells (TIC) clonally recapitulated the immunophenotypic spectrum of the original tumor in vivo (including cells with a less-differentiated immunophenotype) and shared signaling networks, such that in vivo pharmacologic targeting of conserved TIC survival pathways (DNA methyltransferase and MEK phosphorylation) significantly increased survival. Collectively, H9M AML is organized as an atypical hierarchy that defies the strict lineage marker boundaries and unidirectional differentiation of normal hematopoiesis. Moreover, this suggests that in certain malignancies tumor-initiation activity (or “cancer-stemness”) can represent a cellular state that exists independently of distinct immunophenotypic definition.
PMCID: PMC3273989  PMID: 22305570
24.  COP9 Signalosome Component JAB1/CSN5 Is Necessary for T Cell Signaling through LFA-1 and HIV-1 Replication 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41725.
To determine critical host factors involved in HIV-1 replication, a dominant effector genetics approach was developed to reveal signaling pathways on which HIV-1 depends for replication. A large library of short peptide aptamers was expressed via retroviral delivery in T cells. Peptides that interfered with T cell activation-dependent processes that might support HIV-1 replication were identified. One of the selected peptides altered signaling, lead to a difference in T cell activation status, and inhibited HIV-1 replication. The target of the peptide was JAB1/CSN5, a component of the signalosome complex. JAB1 expression overcame the inhibition of HIV-1 replication in the presence of peptide and also promoted HIV-1 replication in activated primary CD4+ T cells. This peptide blocked physiological release of JAB1 from the accessory T cell surface protein LFA-1, downstream AP-1 dependent events, NFAT activation, and HIV-1 replication. Thus, genetic selection for intracellular aptamer inhibitors of host cell processes proximal to signals at the immunological synapse of T cells can define unique mechanisms important to HIV-1 replication.
PMCID: PMC3404009  PMID: 22911848
25.  Extracting a Cellular Hierarchy from High-dimensional Cytometry Data with SPADE 
Nature biotechnology  2011;29(10):886-891.
Multiparametric single-cell analysis is critical for understanding cellular heterogeneity. Despite recent technological advances in single-cell measurements, methods for analyzing high-dimensional single-cell data are often subjective, labor intensive and require prior knowledge of the biological system under investigation. To objectively uncover cellular heterogeneity from single-cell measurements, we present a novel computational approach, Spanning-tree Progression Analysis of Density-normalized Events (SPADE). We applied SPADE to cytometry data of mouse and human bone marrow. In both cases, SPADE organized cells in a hierarchy of related phenotypes that partially recapitulated well-described patterns of hematopoiesis. In addition, SPADE produced a map of intracellular signal activation across the landscape of human hematopoietic development. SPADE revealed a functionally distinct cell population, natural killer (NK) cells, without using any NK-specific parameters. SPADE is a versatile method that facilitates the analysis of cellular heterogeneity, the identification of cell types, and comparison of functional markers in response to perturbations.
PMCID: PMC3196363  PMID: 21964415

Results 1-25 (49)