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Endothelial cells (ECs) are heterogeneous across and within tissues, reflecting distinct, specialised functions. EC heterogeneity has been proposed to underpin EC plasticity independently from vessel microenvironments. However, heterogeneity driven by contact-dependent or short-range cell-cell crosstalk cannot be evaluated with single cell transcriptomic approaches, as spatial and contextual information is lost. Nonetheless, quantification of EC heterogeneity and understanding of its molecular drivers is key to developing novel therapeutics for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and for revascularisation in regenerative medicine. Here, we developed an EC profiling tool (ECPT) to examine individual cells within intact monolayers. We used ECPT to characterise different phenotypes in arterial, venous and microvascular EC populations. In line with other studies, we measured heterogeneity in terms of cell cycle, proliferation, and junction organisation. ECPT uncovered a previously under-appreciated single-cell heterogeneity in NOTCH activation. We correlated cell proliferation with different NOTCH activation states at the single-cell and population levels. The positional and relational information extracted with our novel approach is key to elucidating the molecular mechanisms underpinning EC heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number259104
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022


  • Cell Biology


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