Universal recording of cell-cell contacts in vivo for interaction-based transcriptomics


Cellular interactions are essential for tissue organization and functionality. In particular, immune cells rely on direct and usually transient interactions with other immune and non-immune populations to specify and regulate their function. To study these kiss-and-run interactions directly in vivo, we previously developed LIPSTIC (Labeling Immune Partnerships by SorTagging Intercellular Contacts), an approach that uses enzymatic transfer of a labeled substrate between the molecular partners CD40L and CD40 to label interacting cells. Reliance on this pathway limited the use of LIPSTIC to measuring interactions between CD4+ helper T cells and antigen presenting cells, however. Here, we report the development of a universal version of LIPSTIC (uLIPSTIC), which can record physical interactions both among immune cells and between immune and non-immune populations irrespective of the receptors and ligands involved. We show that uLIPSTIC can be used, among other things, to monitor the priming of CD8+ T cells by dendritic cells, reveal the cellular partners of regulatory T cells in steady state, and identify germinal center (GC)-resident T follicular helper (Tfh) cells based on their ability to interact cognately with GC B cells. By coupling uLIPSTIC with single-cell transcriptomics, we build a catalog of the immune populations that physically interact with intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and identify a receptor-ligand pair necessary for the interaction between IECs and intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). Thus, uLIPSTIC provides a broadly useful technology for measuring and understanding cell-cell interactions across multiple biological systems.

Yuri Pritykin
Yuri Pritykin
Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Genomics