Single-Cell Genomics: Catalyst for Cell Fate Engineering

Boxun Li, Gary C. Hon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


As we near a complete catalog of mammalian cell types, the capability to engineer specific cell types on demand would transform biomedical research and regenerative medicine. However, the current pace of discovering new cell types far outstrips our ability to engineer them. One attractive strategy for cellular engineering is direct reprogramming, where induction of specific transcription factor (TF) cocktails orchestrates cell state transitions. Here, we review the foundational studies of TF-mediated reprogramming in the context of a general framework for cell fate engineering, which consists of: discovering new reprogramming cocktails, assessing engineered cells, and revealing molecular mechanisms. Traditional bulk reprogramming methods established a strong foundation for TF-mediated reprogramming, but were limited by their small scale and difficulty resolving cellular heterogeneity. Recently, single-cell technologies have overcome these challenges to rapidly accelerate progress in cell fate engineering. In the next decade, we anticipate that these tools will enable unprecedented control of cell state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number748942
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Oct 18 2021


  • cell fate
  • regenerative medicine
  • reprogramming
  • single cell genomics
  • transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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