Measuring gene expression in single bacterial cells: Recent advances in methods and micro-devices

Xu Shi, Weimin Gao, Jiangxin Wang, Shih-Hui Chao, Weiwen Zhang, Deirdre Meldrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Populations of bacterial cells that grow under the same conditions and/or environments are often considered to be uniform and thus can be described by ensemble average values of their physiologic, phenotypic, genotypic or other parameters. However, recent evidence suggests that cell-to-cell differences at the gene expression level could be an order of magnitude greater than previously thought even for isogenic bacterial populations. Such gene expression or transcriptional-level heterogeneity determines not only the fate of individual bacterial cells in a population but could also affect the ultimate fate of the population itself. Although techniques for single-cell gene expression measurement in eukaryotic cells have been successfully implemented for a decade or so, they have only recently become available for single bacterial cells. This is due to the difficulty of efficient lysis of most bacterial cells, as well as short half-life time (low stability) of bacterial mRNA. In this article, we review the recent progress and challenges associated with analyzing gene expression levels in single bacterial cells using various semi-quantitative and quantitative methods. In addition, a review of the recent progress in applying microfluidic devices to isolate single bacterial cells for gene expression analysis is also included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-460
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Reviews in Biotechnology
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Bacteria
  • Gene expression
  • Microfluidics
  • Single cells
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring gene expression in single bacterial cells: Recent advances in methods and micro-devices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this