Phenotypic characterization of individual cells provides crucial insights into intercellular heterogeneity and enables access to information that is unavailable from ensemble averaged, bulk cell analyses. Single-cell studies have attracted significant interest in recent years and spurred the development of a variety of commercially available and research-grade technologies. To quantify cell-to-cell variability of cell populations, we have developed an experimental platform for real-time measurements of oxygen consumption (OC) kinetics at the single-cell level. Unique challenges inherent to these single-cell measurements arise, and no existing data analysis methodology is available to address them. Here we present a data processing and analysis method that addresses challenges encountered with this unique type of data in order to extract biologically relevant information. We applied the method to analyze OC profiles obtained with single cells of two different cell lines derived from metaplastic and dysplastic human Barrett's esophageal epithelium. In terms of method development, three main challenges were considered for this heterogeneous dynamic system: (i) high levels of noise, (ii) the lack of a priori knowledge of single-cell dynamics, and (iii) the role of intercellular variability within and across cell types. Several strategies and solutions to address each of these three challenges are presented. The features such as slopes, intercepts, breakpoint or change-point were extracted for every OC profile and compared across individual cells and cell types. The results demonstrated that the extracted features facilitated exposition of subtle differences between individual cells and their responses to cell-cell interactions. With minor modifications, this method can be used to process and analyze data from other acquisition and experimental modalities at the single-cell level, providing a valuable statistical framework for single-cell analysis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology