Imagine the vast chemical complexity that exists within each of our cells. Concentrations of DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and metabolites range from a single molecule to billions – and molecular weights cross more than six orders of magnitude. A molecule may disappear almost as soon as it appears, or may long outlast the cell in which it originated. How can we capture a snapshot of just one cell’s intricate inner workings?
Marina Philip, Jonathan Sweedler |
Chemical interactions can drive cell function. Because of the striking chemical heterogeneity found within cell populations, analyzing cells individually can uncover mechanisms not observable when studying the chemistry from homogenized cellular populations. However, the intricacies of single cell investigation become more overwhelming the more we consider them; from sample preparation to analysis, smaller scales increase our risk of failure.
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About the Authors
Marina C. Philip is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, USA.