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Single-cell RNA sequencing of lymph node stromal cells reveals niche-associated heterogeneity

Stromal cells (SCs) establish the compartmentalization of lymphoid tissues critical to the immune response. However, the full diversity of lymph node (LN) SCs remains undefined. Using droplet-based single-cell RNA sequencing, we identified nine peripheral LN non-endothelial SC clusters. Included are the established subsets, Ccl19hi T-zone reticular cells (TRCs), marginal reticular cells, follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), and perivascular cells. We also identified Ccl19lo TRCs, likely including cholesterol-25-hydroxylase+ cells located at the T-zone perimeter, Cxcl9+ TRCs in the T-zone and interfollicular region, CD34+ SCs in the capsule and medullary vessel adventitia, indolethylamine N-methyltransferase+ SCs in the medullary cords, and Nr4a1+ SCs in several niches. These data help define how transcriptionally distinct LN SCs support niche-restricted immune functions and provide evidence that many SCs are in an activated state.