The evolving concept of cell identity in the single cell era

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46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fueled by recent advances in single cell biology, we are moving away from qualitative and undersampled assessments of cell identity, toward building quantitative, high-resolution cell atlases. However, it remains challenging to precisely define cell identity, leading to renewed debate surrounding this concept. Here, I present three pillars that I propose are central to the notion of cell identity: phenotype, lineage and state. I explore emerging technologies that are enabling the systematic and unbiased quantification of these properties, and outline how these efforts will enable the construction of a high-resolution, dynamic landscape of cell identity, potentially revealing its underlying molecular regulation to provide new opportunities for understanding and manipulating cell fate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdev169748
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Volume146
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Cell atlases
  • Cell identity
  • Cell state
  • Single cell

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