A Roadmap for the Human Oral and Craniofacial Cell Atlas
Caetano AJ, Human Cell Atlas Oral and Craniofacial Bionetwork, Sequeira I, Byrd KM
Oral and craniofacial tissues are uniquely adapted for continuous and intricate functioning, including breathing, feeding, and communication. To achieve these vital processes, this complex is supported by incredible tissue diversity, variously composed of epithelia, vessels, cartilage, bone, teeth, ligaments, and muscles, as well as mesenchymal, adipose, and peripheral nervous tissue. Recent single cell and spatial multiomics assays-specifically, genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics-have annotated known and new cell types and cell states in human tissues and animal models, but these concepts remain limitedly explored in the human postnatal oral and craniofacial complex. Here, we highlight the collaborative and coordinated efforts of the newly established Oral and Craniofacial Bionetwork as part of the Human Cell Atlas, which aims to leverage single cell and spatial multiomics approaches to first understand the cellular and molecular makeup of human oral and craniofacial tissues in health and to then address common and rare diseases. These powerful assays have already revealed the cell types that support oral tissues, and they will unravel cell types and molecular networks utilized across development, maintenance, and aging as well as those affected in diseases of the craniofacial complex. This level of integration and cell annotation with partner laboratories across the globe will be critical for understanding how multiple variables, such as age, sex, race, and ancestry, influence these oral and craniofacial niches. Here, we 1) highlight these recent collaborative efforts to employ new single cell and spatial approaches to resolve our collective biology at a higher resolution in health and disease, 2) discuss the vision behind the Oral and Craniofacial Bionetwork, 3) outline the stakeholders who contribute to and will benefit from this network, and 4) outline directions for creating the first Human Oral and Craniofacial Cell Atlas.