HUTER - a single-cell spatial reference map of the human uterus

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The members of the HUTER consortium at the kick-off meeting in Valencia, Spain, 8-9th of January 2020.

In a new international project - the Human Uterus Cell Atlas (HUTER) - researchers from the Human Protein Atlas and three other European countries will create a single-cell and spatial reference map of the human uterus. The HUTER project has been funded 4 million Euro from the European Union program H2020, and will run for two years (2020-2021).

The uterus is a fundamental organ for reproduction and women's health. Since endometrial tissue regenerates monthly and its transformation is executed through dynamic changes and interactions of multiple cell types, the organ is also a model in regenerative medicine. The objective of HUTER is to create an unprecedented single-cell and spatial map of the genetic and proteomic changes that occur in the uterus during the menstrual cycle as well as changes associated with different stages of a woman's life. An increased understanding of the molecular repertoire of human uterus will help to address uterine diseases such as endometriosis, increase effectiveness of assisted reproduction treatments, and prevent maternal and infant mortality or morbidity.

"Mapping the human uterus is particularly exciting because it has important implications in several different areas of translational medicine, including reproductive health, obstetrics, gynecology and regenerative medicine," says Dr Cecilia Lindskog, director of the Tissue Atlas in the Human Protein Atlas and researcher at the department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University. Dr Lindskog will lead the Swedish contribution of the HUTER project, with the aim to generate high-resolution spatial image maps of proteins expressed in human endometrium and myometrium. Other involved institutions are INCLIVA (Spain), Wellcome Sanger Institute (UK), University of East Anglia (UK), Competence Centre on Health Technologies (Estonia) and Bahia Software (Spain).

"We are looking forward to integrate results from new technologies such as single-cell RNA-sequencing, whole genome sequencing, single cell epigenomics and spatial transcriptomics with our efforts using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence," Dr Lindskog says. The work performed in her group will build on extensive knowledge and expertise in antibody-based proteomics and large-scale analysis of human tissue samples as part of the Human Protein Atlas project.

HUTER will also be integrated within the international Human Cell Atlas initiative (HCA), which aims at creating a molecular reference map of all cells in the human body.