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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. Spatial probit generalized linear mixed models (spGLMM) with a linear fixed effect and a spatial random effect, endowed with a Gaussian Process prior, are widely used for analysis of binary spatial data. However, the canonical Bayesian implementation of this hierarchical mixed model can involve protracted Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling. Alternate approaches have been proposed that circumvent this by directly representing the marginal likelihood from spGLMM in terms of multivariate normal cummulative distribution functions (cdf). We present a direct and fast rendition of this latter approach for predictions from a spatial probit linear mixed model. We show that the covariance matrix of the cdf characterizing the marginal cdf of binary spatial data from spGLMM is amenable to approximation using Nearest Neighbor Gaussian Processes (NNGP). This facilitates a scalable prediction algorithm for spGLMM using NNGP that only involves sparse or small matrix computations and can be deployed in an embarrassingly parallel manner. We demonstrate the accuracy and scalability of the algorithm via numerous simulation experiments and an analysis of species presence-absence data. 
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