Embryonic development is a crucial period in the life of a multicellular organism, during which limited sets of embryonic progenitors produce all cells in the adult body. Determining which fate these progenitors acquire in adult tissues requires the simultaneous measurement of clonal history and cell identity at single-cell resolution, which has been a major challenge. Clonal history has traditionally been investigated by microscopically tracking cells during development, monitoring the heritable expression of genetically encoded fluorescent proteins and, more recently, using next-generation sequencing technologies that exploit somatic mutations, microsatellite instability, transposon tagging, viral barcoding, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing and Cre-loxP recombination. Single-cell transcriptomics provides a powerful platform for unbiased cell-type classification. Here we present ScarTrace, a single-cell sequencing strategy that enables the simultaneous quantification of clonal history and cell type for thousands of cells obtained from different organs of the adult zebrafish. Using ScarTrace, we show that a small set of multipotent embryonic progenitors generate all haematopoietic cells in the kidney marrow, and that many progenitors produce specific cell types in the eyes and brain. In addition, we study when embryonic progenitors commit to the left or right eye. ScarTrace reveals that epidermal and mesenchymal cells in the caudal fin arise from the same progenitors, and that osteoblast-restricted precursors can produce mesenchymal cells during regeneration. Furthermore, we identify resident immune cells in the fin with a distinct clonal origin from other blood cell types. We envision that similar approaches will have major applications in other experimental systems, in which the matching of embryonic clonal origin to adult cell type will ultimately allow reconstruction of how the adult body is built from a single cell.
- Journal Article