Single Cell Genomics

About the Program

The Perinatal Single-Cell Genomics Unit implements the latest state-of-the-art microfluidic technological advances to study the placenta and other reproductive tissues during pregnancy at single-cell resolution. To analyze and integrate the data, we develop and utilize innovative computational and statistical tools to gain a deeper knowledge of the molecular underpinning of the fetal-maternal dialog at single-cell resolution. Our aim is to identify biomarkers for early prediction of major obstetrical syndromes and to identify target genes that may open new avenues for treatment with precision medicine.

Objectives

  • To implement microfluidic technology to study the placenta and other reproductive tissues at single-cell resolution.
  • To characterize the cell-type composition of different placental compartments and the molecular underpinnings of the maternal-fetal dialog during pregnancy.
  • To develop novel computational tools and statistical models to analyze the gene expression signatures and the epigenomic profiles of placental tissues obtained from pregnancies with and without obstetrical complications.
  • In collaboration with the other units (Bioinformatics, Immunology, Microbiology) of the Perinatology Research Branch, to generate a comprehensive longitudinal multi-omics characterization of human pregnancy to develop better biomarkers and to facilitate early detection of the major obstetrical syndromes.
  • To study the effects of genetic variants on molecular phenotypes and to use Mendelian randomization and mediation analysis to dissect the causal pathway between altered gene expression and pregnancy-related phenotypes

Research Focus

  • Cell-types that define the different placental tissues during pregnancy.
  • How these genes are expressed during gestation for different cell-types.
  • The spatial distribution of the maternal and fetal cellular composition of the human placenta.
  • The interaction of maternal and fetal immune cells at the molecular level.
  • The Identification of genes and cell-types involved in the molecular mechanisms leading to a specific obstetrical syndrome (preterm birth, preeclampsia, fetal death, and more).
  • The identification of molecular mechanisms and genetic pathways that underlie genetic variants associated with pregnancy related phenotypes.

Highlight

  • Characterized the molecular common pathway of labor and term and preterm parturition at single-cell resolution.
  • Determined that co-expression of the ACE2 and TMPRSS2 transcripts is negligible in the placenta and chorioamniotic membranes. This finding indicates why SARS-CoV-2 is rarely vertically transmitted.

Selected Publications

  • Pique-Regi R, Romero R, Tarca AL, Luca F, Xu Y, Alazizi A, Leng Y, Hsu CD, Gomez-Lopez N. Does the human placenta express the canonical cell entry mediators for SARS-CoV-2? Elife. 2020 Jul 14; 9:e58716. PMID: 32662421
  • Tarca AL, Romero R, Pique-Regi R, Pacora P, Done B, Kacerovsky M, Bhatti G, Jaiman S, Hassan SS, Hsu CD, Gomez-Lopez N. Amniotic fluid cell-free transcriptome: a glimpse into fetal development and placental cellular dynamics during normal pregnancy. BMC Med Genomics. 2020 Feb 12; 13:25. PMID: 32050959
  • Pique-Regi R, Romero R, Tarca AL, Sendler ED, Xu Y, Garcia-Flores V, Leng Y, Luca F, Hassan SS, Gomez-Lopez N. Single cell transcriptional signatures of the human placenta in term and preterm parturition. Elife. 2019 Dec 12; 8:e52004. PMID: 31829938

Distinguished Faculty

 

DIRECTOR
Roger Pique-Regi, PhD

Associate Professor, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University School of Medicine

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