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Dissecting cell-type composition and activity-dependent transcriptional state in mammalian brains by massively parallel single-nucleus RNA-seq

Massively parallel single-cell RNA sequencing can precisely resolve cellular diversity in a high-throughput manner at low cost, but unbiased isolation of intact single cells from complex tissues such as adult mammalian brains is challenging. Here, we integrate sucrose-gradient-assisted purification of nuclei with droplet microfluidics to develop a highly scalable single-nucleus RNA-seq approach (sNucDrop-seq), which is free of enzymatic dissociation and nucleus sorting. By profiling 18,000 nuclei isolated from cortical tissues of adult mice, we demonstrate that sNucDrop-seq not only accurately reveals neuronal and non-neuronal subtype composition with high sensitivity but also enables in-depth analysis of transient transcriptional states driven by neuronal activity, at single-cell resolution, in vivo.