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Riba, Julian; Renz, Nathalie; Niemöller, Christoph; Bleul, Sabine; Pfeifer, Dietmar; Stosch, Juliane M.; Metzeler, Klaus H.; Hackanson, Björn; Lübbert, Michael; Duyster, Justus; Koltay, Peter; Zengerle, Roland; Claus, Rainer; Zimmermann, Stefan; Becker, Heiko (2016): Molecular Genetic Characterization of Individual Cancer Cells Isolated via Single-Cell Printing.
In: PLOS ONE 11(9), e0163455


Intratumoral genetic heterogeneity may impact disease outcome. Gold standard for dissecting clonal heterogeneity are single-cell analyses. Here, we present an efficient workflow based on an advanced Single-Cell Printer (SCP) device for the study of gene variants in single cancer cells. To allow for precise cell deposition into microwells the SCP was equipped with an automatic dispenser offset compensation, and the 384-microwell plates were electrostatically neutralized. The ejection efficiency was 99.7% for fluorescent beads (n = 2304) and 98.7% for human cells (U-2 OS or Kasumi-1 cancer cell line, acute myeloid leukemia [AML] patient;n = 150). Per fluorescence microscopy, 98.8% of beads were correctly delivered into the wells. A subset of single cells (n = 81) was subjected to whole genome amplification (WGA), which was successful in all cells. On empty droplets, a PCR on LINE1 retrotransposons yielded no product after WGA, verifying the absence of free-floating DNA in SCP-generated droplets. Representative gene variants identified in bulk specimens were sequenced in single-cell WGA DNA. In U-2 OS, 22 of 25 cells yielded results for both an SLC34A2 and TET2 mutation site, including cells harboring the SLC34A2 but not the TET2 mutation. In one cell, the TET2 mutation analysis was inconclusive due to allelic dropout, as assessed via polymorphisms located close to the mutation. Of Kasumi-1, 23 of 33 cells with data on both the KIT and TP53 mutation site harbored both mutations. In the AML patient, 21 of 23 cells were informative for a TP53 polymorphism;the identified alleles matched the loss of chromosome arm 17p. The advanced SCP allows efficient, precise and gentle isolation of individual cells for subsequent WGA and routine PCR/sequencing-based analyses of gene variants. This makes single-cell information readily accessible to a wide range of applications and can provide insights into clonal heterogeneity that were indeterminable solely by analyses of bulk specimens.