Tracking proteome dynamics in single cells

Recent single-cell technology advances reveal detailed molecular information from individual cells, but many of these methods capture snapshots of a single point in time, missing the dynamic changes of proteins or other molecules inside individual cells. Nikolai Slavov is leading the development of a new technique, dubbed SCoPE-Dyn, that will allow researchers to follow an individual cell’s “protein travelogue”: the changes over time in hundreds of different proteins across thousands of human cells. This method expands on a previous technique Slavov and his colleagues developed, SCoPE2, that uses mass spectrometry to capture protein amounts in single cells, adding the fourth dimension of time to uncover changes in each protein. Understanding these details in individual cells could ultimately lead to improvements in the emerging area of targeted protein degradation therapeutics, therapies which harness the cells’ protein turnover mechanisms to treat diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.  

Affiliated Investigators

Nikolai Slavov, Ph.D.

Northeastern University

Nikolai Slavov’s group seeks principles in the coordination among protein synthesis, metabolism, cell growth and differentiation. The Slavov group has pioneered high-throughput mass-spectrometry methods for quantifying proteins in single cells and is developing new computational methods for analyzing and understanding single-cell proteomics and multimodal data. The group obtained direct evidence for a new regulatory mechanism of protein synthesis (ribosome specialization) and continues to drive research in this emerging field supported by the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Dr. Slavov studied biology and physics at MIT before completing a dissertation at Princeton University (Botstein laboratory) with research focused on the coordination among metabolism, growth and gene expression. He then returned to MIT (van Oudenaarden laboratory) for post-doctoral research that characterized trade-offs of aerobic glycolysis.  

Dr. Slavov actively organizes community initiatives, such as the annual single-cell proteomics conference (single-cell.net), which is a highly interactive and interdisciplinary meeting. He also participates and contributes to organizing other leading conferences, including NeurIPS and HUPO.