A single-cell transcriptomic inventory of murine smooth muscle cells

Lars Muhl, Giuseppe Mocci, Riikka Pietilä, Jianping Liu, Liqun He, Guillem Genové, Stefanos Leptidis, Sonja Gustafsson, Byambajav Buyandelger, Elisabeth Raschperger, Emil M. Hansson, Johan L.M. Björkegren, Michael Vanlandewijck, Urban Lendahl, Christer Betsholtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) execute important physiological functions in numerous vital organ systems, including the vascular, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urogenital tracts. SMC differ morphologically and functionally at these different anatomical locations, but the molecular underpinnings of the differences remain poorly understood. Here, using deep single-cell RNA sequencing combined with in situ gene and protein expression analysis in four murine organs—heart, aorta, lung, and colon—we identify a molecular basis for high-level differences among vascular, visceral, and airway SMC, as well as more subtle differences between, for example, SMC in elastic and muscular arteries and zonation of elastic artery SMC along the direction of blood flow. Arterial SMC exhibit extensive organotypic heterogeneity, whereas venous SMC are similar across organs. We further identify a specific SMC subtype within the pulmonary vasculature. This comparative SMC cross-organ resource offers insight into SMC subtypes and their specific functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2426-2443.e6
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number20
StatePublished - 24 Oct 2022


  • airway smooth muscle cells
  • contractile apparatus
  • organotypicity
  • single-cell RNA sequencing
  • smooth muscle cell subtype
  • smooth muscle cells
  • transcriptome
  • vascular smooth muscle cells
  • visceral smooth muscle cells


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