Massively parallel reporter gene assays are key tools in regulatory genomics but cannot be used to identify cell-type-specific regulatory elements without performing assays serially across different cell types. To address this problem, we developed a single-cell massively parallel reporter assay (scMPRA) to measure the activity of libraries of cis-regulatory sequences (CRSs) across multiple cell types simultaneously. We assayed a library of core promoters in a mixture of HEK293 and K562 cells and showed that scMPRA is a reproducible, highly parallel, single-cell reporter gene assay that detects cell-type-specific cis-regulatory activity. We then measured a library of promoter variants across multiple cell types in live mouse retinas and showed that subtle genetic variants can produce cell-type-specific effects on cis-regulatory activity. We anticipate that scMPRA will be widely applicable for studying the role of CRSs across diverse cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-354
Number of pages9
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


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