Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications

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    A simple, scalable approach to building a cross-platform transcriptome atlas
    Angel, PW ; Rajab, N ; Deng, Y ; Pacheco, CM ; Chen, T ; Le Cao, K-A ; Choi, J ; Wells, CA ; Fertig, EJ (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2020-09-01)
    Gene expression atlases have transformed our understanding of the development, composition and function of human tissues. New technologies promise improved cellular or molecular resolution, and have led to the identification of new cell types, or better defined cell states. But as new technologies emerge, information derived on old platforms becomes obsolete. We demonstrate that it is possible to combine a large number of different profiling experiments summarised from dozens of laboratories and representing hundreds of donors, to create an integrated molecular map of human tissue. As an example, we combine 850 samples from 38 platforms to build an integrated atlas of human blood cells. We achieve robust and unbiased cell type clustering using a variance partitioning method, selecting genes with low platform bias relative to biological variation. Other than an initial rescaling, no other transformation to the primary data is applied through batch correction or renormalisation. Additional data, including single-cell datasets, can be projected for comparison, classification and annotation. The resulting atlas provides a multi-scaled approach to visualise and analyse the relationships between sets of genes and blood cell lineages, including the maturation and activation of leukocytes in vivo and in vitro. In allowing for data integration across hundreds of studies, we address a key reproduciblity challenge which is faced by any new technology. This allows us to draw on the deep phenotypes and functional annotations that accompany traditional profiling methods, and provide important context to the high cellular resolution of single cell profiling. Here, we have implemented the blood atlas in the open access platform, drawing on its extensive collection of curated transcriptome data. The method is simple, scalable and amenable for rapid deployment in other biological systems or computational workflows.
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    A molecular classification of human mesenchymal stromal cells
    Rohart, F ; Mason, EA ; Matigian, N ; Mosbergen, R ; Korn, O ; Chen, T ; Butcher, S ; Patel, J ; Atkinson, K ; Khosrotehrani, K ; Fisk, NM ; Le Cao, K-A ; Wells, CA (PEERJ INC, 2016-03-24)
    Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are widely used for the study of mesenchymal tissue repair, and increasingly adopted for cell therapy, despite the lack of consensus on the identity of these cells. In part this is due to the lack of specificity of MSC markers. Distinguishing MSC from other stromal cells such as fibroblasts is particularly difficult using standard analysis of surface proteins, and there is an urgent need for improved classification approaches. Transcriptome profiling is commonly used to describe and compare different cell types; however, efforts to identify specific markers of rare cellular subsets may be confounded by the small sample sizes of most studies. Consequently, it is difficult to derive reproducible, and therefore useful markers. We addressed the question of MSC classification with a large integrative analysis of many public MSC datasets. We derived a sparse classifier (The Rohart MSC test) that accurately distinguished MSC from non-MSC samples with >97% accuracy on an internal training set of 635 samples from 41 studies derived on 10 different microarray platforms. The classifier was validated on an external test set of 1,291 samples from 65 studies derived on 15 different platforms, with >95% accuracy. The genes that contribute to the MSC classifier formed a protein-interaction network that included known MSC markers. Further evidence of the relevance of this new MSC panel came from the high number of Mendelian disorders associated with mutations in more than 65% of the network. These result in mesenchymal defects, particularly impacting on skeletal growth and function. The Rohart MSC test is a simple in silico test that accurately discriminates MSC from fibroblasts, other adult stem/progenitor cell types or differentiated stromal cells. It has been implemented in the resource, to assist researchers wishing to benchmark their own MSC datasets or data from the public domain. The code is available from the CRAN repository and all data used to generate the MSC test is available to download via the Gene Expression Omnibus or the Stemformatics resource.