Live-seq is an approach for single-cell transcriptome profiling. It preserves cell viability during RNA extraction using fluidic force microscopy. Live-seq can be used to sequentially profile the transcriptomes of individual macrophages before and after stimulation with LPS.
Single-cell transcriptomics (scRNA-seq) has greatly advanced our ability to characterize cellular heterogeneity in health and disease. However, scRNA-seq requires lysing cells, which makes it impossible to link the individual cells to downstream molecular and phenotypic states. Here, we established Live-seq, an approach for single-cell transcriptome profiling that preserves cell viability during RNA extraction using fluidic force microscopy. Based on cell division, functional responses and whole-cell transcriptome read-outs, we show that Live-seq does not induce major cellular perturbations and therefore can function as a transcriptomic recorder. We demonstrate this recording capacity by preregistering the transcriptomes of individual macrophage-like RAW 264.7 cells that were subsequently subjected to time-lapse imaging after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure. This enabled the unsupervised, genome-wide ranking of genes based on their ability to impact macrophage LPS response heterogeneity, revealing basal NFKBIA expression level and cell cycle state as major phenotypic determinants. Furthermore, we show that Live-seq can be used to sequentially profile the transcriptomes of individual macrophages before and after stimulation with LPS, thus enabling the direct mapping of a cells trajectory. Live-seq can address a broad range of biological questions by transforming scRNA-seq from an end-point to a temporal analysis approach.