Understanding epigenetic regulation: Tracking protein levels across multiple generations of cells
Department of Physics and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge, MA, USA
Corresponding author: email@example.com
Cells and organisms are remarkably robust: they alter the variety and levels of expressed genes and proteins in response to environmental stimuli, including temperature, chemicals, and the stiffness of their surroundings. Ultimately changes in gene and protein expression can result in a distinct phenotypic state, which in some cases is maintained over multiple generations; the ability to pass on a particular phenotypic state to progeny cells is critical for differentiation. Moreover, epigenetic regulation of phenotype is also thought to provide an evolutionary advantage for a population of cells adapting to a fluctuating environment on faster timescales than the occurrence of genetic mutations. However, simple methods to study patterns of gene and protein expression on multi-generational timescales are sparse. Here we describe a technique to study lineages of single cells over multiple generations using a microfluidic device; this reveals patterns of expression where protein levels are correlated across multiple generations. Such quantitative information of protein expression in the context of pedigree remains hidden when studying the population as an ensemble.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2010