Barcoding Notch signaling in the developing brain

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Developmental signaling inputs are fundamental for shaping cell fates and behavior. However, traditional fluorescent-based signaling reporters have limitations in scalability and molecular resolution of cell types. We present SABER-seq, a CRISPR-Cas molecular recorder that stores transient developmental signaling cues as permanent mutations in cellular genomes for deconstruction at later stages via single-cell transcriptomics. We applied SABER-seq to record Notch signaling in developing zebrafish brains. SABER-seq has two components: a signaling sensor and a barcode recorder. The sensor activates Cas9 in a Notch-dependent manner with inducible control while the recorder accumulates mutations that represent Notch activity in founder cells. We combine SABER-seq with an expanded juvenile brain atlas to define cell types whose fates are determined downstream of Notch signaling. We identified examples wherein Notch signaling may have differential impact on terminal cell fates. SABER-seq is a novel platform for rapid, scalable and high-resolution mapping of signaling activity during development.

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