Many developmental processes are regulated post-transcriptionally. Such post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms can now be analyzed by robust single-cell mass spectrometry methods that allow accurate quantification of proteins and their modification in single cells. These methods can enable quantitative exploration of protein synthesis and degradation mechanisms that contribute to developmental cell fate specification. Furthermore, they may support functional analysis of protein conformations and activities in single cells, and thus link protein functions to developmental processes. This Spotlight provides an accessible introduction to single-cell mass spectrometry methods and suggests initial biological questions that are ripe for investigation.

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