Techniques that allow single cell analysis are gaining widespread attention, and most of these studies utilize genomics-based approaches. While nanofluidic technologies have enabled mass spectrometric analysis of single cells, these measurements have been limited to metabolomics and lipidomic studies. Single cell proteomics has the potential to improve our understanding of intercellular heterogeneity. However, this approach has faced challenges including limited sample availability, as well as a requirement of highly sensitive methods for sample collection, cleanup, and detection. We present a technique to overcome these limitations by combining a micropipette (pulled glass capillary) based sample collection strategy with offline sample preparation and nanoLC-MS/MS to analyze proteins through a bottom-up proteomic strategy. This study explores two types of proteomics data acquisition strategies namely data-dependent (DDA) and data-independent acquisition (DIA). Results from the study indicate DIA to be more sensitive enabling analysis of >1600 proteins from ∼130 μm Xenopus laevis embryonic cells containing <6 nL of cytoplasm. The method was found to be robust in obtaining reproducible protein quantifications from single cells spanning the 1-128-cell stages of development. Furthermore, we used micropipette sampling to study intercellular heterogeneity within cells in a single embryo and investigated embryonic asymmetry along both animal-vegetal and dorsal-ventral axes during early stages of development. Investigation of the animal-vegetal axis led to discovery of various asymmetrically distributed proteins along the animal-vegetal axis. We have further compared the hits found from our proteomic data sets with other studies and validated a few hits using an orthogonal imaging technique. This study forms the first report of vegetal enrichment of the germ plasm associated protein DDX4/VASA in Xenopus embyos. Overall, the method and data presented here holds promise to enable important leads in developmental biology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry