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Single Cell Proteomics Using Frog (Xenopus laevis) Blastomeres Isolated from Early Stage Embryos, Which Form a Geometric Progression in Protein Content

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posted on 17.06.2016, 00:00 by Liangliang Sun, Kyle M. Dubiak, Elizabeth H. Peuchen, Zhenbin Zhang, Guijie Zhu, Paul W. Huber, Norman J. Dovichi
Single cell analysis is required to understand cellular heterogeneity in biological systems. We propose that single cells (blastomeres) isolated from early stage invertebrate, amphibian, or fish embryos are ideal model systems for the development of technologies for single cell analysis. For these embryos, although cell cleavage is not exactly symmetric, the content per blastomere decreases roughly by half with each cell division, creating a geometric progression in cellular content. This progression forms a ladder of single-cell targets for the development of successively higher sensitivity instruments. In this manuscript, we performed bottom-up proteomics on single blastomeres isolated by microdissection from 2-, 4-, 8-, 16-, 32-, and 50-cell Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) embryos. Over 1 400 protein groups were identified in single-run reversed-phase liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry from single balstomeres isolated from a 16-cell embryo. When the mass of yolk-free proteins in single blastomeres decreased from ∼0.8 μg (16-cell embryo) to ∼0.2 μg (50-cell embryo), the number of protein group identifications declined from 1 466 to 644. Around 800 protein groups were quantified across four blastomeres isolated from a 16-cell embryo. By comparing the protein expression among different blastomeres, we observed that the blastomere-to-blastomere heterogeneity in 8-, 16-, 32-, and 50-cell embryos increases with development stage, presumably due to cellular differentiation. These results suggest that comprehensive quantitative proteomics on single blastomeres isolated from these early stage embryos can provide valuable insights into cellular differentiation and organ development.