Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 10, 2016
Previous Article Next Article

Cellular identity at the single-cell level

Author affiliations


A single cell creates surprising heterogeneity in a multicellular organism. While every organismal cell shares almost an identical genome, molecular interactions in cells alter the use of DNA sequences to modulate the gene of interest for specialization of cellular functions. Each cell gains a unique identity through molecular coding across the DNA, RNA, and protein conversions. On the other hand, loss of cellular identity leads to critical diseases such as cancer. Most cell identity dissection studies are based on bulk molecular assays that mask differences in individual cells. To probe cell-to-cell variability in a population, we discuss single cell approaches to decode the genetic, epigenetic, transcriptional, and translational mechanisms for cell identity formation. In combination with molecular instructions, the physical principles behind cell identity determination are examined. Deciphering and reprogramming cellular types impact biology and medicine.

Graphical abstract: Cellular identity at the single-cell level

Back to tab navigation

Article information

18 May 2016
18 Jul 2016
First published
19 Jul 2016

Mol. BioSyst., 2016,12, 2965-2979
Article type
Review Article

Cellular identity at the single-cell level

A. F. Coskun, U. Eser and S. Islam, Mol. BioSyst., 2016, 12, 2965
DOI: 10.1039/C6MB00388E

Search articles by author