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Department of Biological and Medical Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Single-cell RNA-seq quantifies biological heterogeneity across both discrete cell types and continuous cell transitions. Partition-based graph abstraction (PAGA) provides an interpretable graph-like map of the arising data manifold, based on estimating connectivity of manifold partitions (https://github.com/theislab/paga). PAGA maps preserve the global topology of data, allow analyzing data at different resolutions, and result in much higher computational efficiency of the typical exploratory data analysis workflow. We demonstrate the method by inferring structure-rich cell maps with consistent topology across four hematopoietic datasets, adult planaria and the zebrafish embryo and benchmark computational performance on one million neurons.
In multicellular organisms, cell type diversity and fate depend on specific sets of transcript isoforms generated by post-transcriptional RNA processing. Here, we used Schmidtea mediterranea, a flatworm with extraordinary regenerative abilities and a large pool of adult stem cells, as an in vivo model to study the role of Uridyl-rich small nuclear RNAs (UsnRNAs), which participate in multiple RNA processing reactions including splicing, in stem cell regulation. We characterized the planarian UsnRNA repertoire, identified stem cell-enriched variants and obtained strong evidence for an increased rate of UsnRNA 3’-processing in stem cells compared to their differentiated counterparts. Consistently, components of the Integrator complex showed stem cell-enriched expression and their depletion by RNAi disrupted UsnRNA processing resulting in global changes of splicing patterns and reduced processing of histone mRNAs. Interestingly, loss of Integrator complex function disrupted both stem cell maintenance and regeneration of tissues. Our data show that the function of the Integrator complex in UsnRNA 3’-processing is conserved in planarians and essential for maintaining their stem cell pool. We propose that cell type-specific modulation of UsnRNA composition and maturation contributes to in vivo cell fate choices, such as stem cell self-renewal in planarians.