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  1. Abstract Feature selection to identify spatially variable genes or other biologically informative genes is a key step during analyses of spatially-resolved transcriptomics data. Here, we propose nnSVG, a scalable approach to identify spatially variable genes based on nearest-neighbor Gaussian processes. Our method (i) identifies genes that vary in expression continuously across the entire tissue or within a priori defined spatial domains, (ii) uses gene-specific estimates of length scale parameters within the Gaussian process models, and (iii) scales linearly with the number of spatial locations. We demonstrate the performance of our method using experimental data from several technological platforms and simulations. A software implementation is available at https://bioconductor.org/packages/nnSVG . 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Background The cell cycle is a highly conserved, continuous process which controls faithful replication and division of cells. Single-cell technologies have enabled increasingly precise measurements of the cell cycle both as a biological process of interest and as a possible confounding factor. Despite its importance and conservation, there is no universally applicable approach to infer position in the cell cycle with high-resolution from single-cell RNA-seq data. Results Here, we present tricycle, an R/Bioconductor package, to address this challenge by leveraging key features of the biology of the cell cycle, the mathematical properties of principal component analysis of periodic functions, and the use of transfer learning. We estimate a cell-cycle embedding using a fixed reference dataset and project new data into this reference embedding, an approach that overcomes key limitations of learning a dataset-dependent embedding. Tricycle then predicts a cell-specific position in the cell cycle based on the data projection. The accuracy of tricycle compares favorably to gold-standard experimental assays, which generally require specialized measurements in specifically constructed in vitro systems. Using internal controls which are available for any dataset, we show that tricycle predictions generalize to datasets with multiple cell types, across tissues, species, and even sequencing assays. Conclusions Tricycle generalizes across datasets and is highly scalable and applicable to atlas-level single-cell RNA-seq data. 
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  3. Abstract Background DNA methylation dynamics in the brain are associated with normal development and neuropsychiatric disease and differ across functionally distinct brain regions. Previous studies of genome-wide methylation differences among human brain regions focus on limited numbers of individuals and one to two brain regions. Results Using GTEx samples, we generate a resource of DNA methylation in purified neuronal nuclei from 8 brain regions as well as lung and thyroid tissues from 12 to 23 donors. We identify differentially methylated regions between brain regions among neuronal nuclei in both CpG (181,146) and non-CpG (264,868) contexts, few of which were unique to a single pairwise comparison. This significantly expands the knowledge of differential methylation across the brain by 10-fold. In addition, we present the first differential methylation analysis among neuronal nuclei from basal ganglia tissues and identify unique CpG differentially methylated regions, many associated with ion transport. We also identify 81,130 regions of variably CpG methylated regions, i.e., variable methylation among individuals in the same brain region, which are enriched in regulatory regions and in CpG differentially methylated regions. Many variably methylated regions are unique to a specific brain region, with only 202 common across all brain regions, as well as lung and thyroid. Variably methylated regions identified in the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and hippocampus are enriched for heritability of schizophrenia. Conclusions These data suggest that epigenetic variation in these particular human brain regions could be associated with the risk for this neuropsychiatric disorder. 
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  4. Abstract

    Infinium methylation arrays are not available for the vast majority of non-human mammals. Moreover, even if species-specific arrays were available, probe differences between them would confound cross-species comparisons. To address these challenges, we developed the mammalian methylation array, a single custom array that measures up to 36k CpGs per species that are well conserved across many mammalian species. We designed a set of probes that can tolerate specific cross-species mutations. We annotate the array in over 200 species and report CpG island status and chromatin states in select species. Calibration experiments demonstrate the high fidelity in humans, rats, and mice. The mammalian methylation array has several strengths: it applies to all mammalian species even those that have not yet been sequenced, it provides deep coverage of conserved cytosines facilitating the development of epigenetic biomarkers, and it increases the probability that biological insights gained in one species will translate to others.

     
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