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  1. Abstract

    Advances in single-cell technologies allow scrutinizing of heterogeneous cell states, however, detecting cell-state transitions from snap-shot single-cell transcriptome data remains challenging. To investigate cells with transient properties or mixed identities, we present MuTrans, a method based on multiscale reduction technique to identify the underlying stochastic dynamics that prescribes cell-fate transitions. By iteratively unifying transition dynamics across multiple scales, MuTrans constructs the cell-fate dynamical manifold that depicts progression of cell-state transitions, and distinguishes stable and transition cells. In addition, MuTrans quantifies the likelihood of all possible transition trajectories between cell states using coarse-grained transition path theory. Downstream analysis identifies distinctmore »genes that mark the transient states or drive the transitions. The method is consistent with the well-established Langevin equation and transition rate theory. Applying MuTrans to datasets collected from five different single-cell experimental platforms, we show its capability and scalability to robustly unravel complex cell fate dynamics induced by transition cells in systems such as tumor EMT, iPSC differentiation and blood cell differentiation. Overall, our method bridges data-driven and model-based approaches on cell-fate transitions at single-cell resolution.

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  2. Abstract

    Genetic mutations to the Lamin A/C gene (LMNA) can cause heart disease, but the mechanisms making cardiac tissues uniquely vulnerable to the mutations remain largely unknown. Further, patients withLMNAmutations have highly variable presentation of heart disease progression and type.In vitropatient-specific experiments could provide a powerful platform for studying this phenomenon, but the use of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CM) introduces heterogeneity in maturity and function thus complicating the interpretation of the results of any single experiment. We hypothesized that integrating single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) with analysis of the tissue architecture and contractile function would elucidate some ofmore »the probable mechanisms. To test this, we investigated five iPSC-CM lines, three controls and two patients with a (c.357-2A>G) mutation. The patient iPSC-CM tissues had significantly weaker stress generation potential than control iPSC-CM tissues demonstrating the viability of ourin vitroapproach. Through scRNA-seq, differentially expressed genes between control and patient lines were identified. Some of these genes, linked to quantitative structural and functional changes, were cardiac specific, explaining the targeted nature of the disease progression seen in patients. The results of this work demonstrate the utility of combiningin vitrotools in exploring heart disease mechanics.

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  3. Abstract

    For many RNA molecules, the secondary structure is essential for the correct function of the RNA. Predicting RNA secondary structure from nucleotide sequences is a long-standing problem in genomics, but the prediction performance has reached a plateau over time. Traditional RNA secondary structure prediction algorithms are primarily based on thermodynamic models through free energy minimization, which imposes strong prior assumptions and is slow to run. Here, we propose a deep learning-based method, called UFold, for RNA secondary structure prediction, trained directly on annotated data and base-pairing rules. UFold proposes a novel image-like representation of RNA sequences, which can bemore »efficiently processed by Fully Convolutional Networks (FCNs). We benchmark the performance of UFold on both within- and cross-family RNA datasets. It significantly outperforms previous methods on within-family datasets, while achieving a similar performance as the traditional methods when trained and tested on distinct RNA families. UFold is also able to predict pseudoknots accurately. Its prediction is fast with an inference time of about 160 ms per sequence up to 1500 bp in length. An online web server running UFold is available at https://ufold.ics.uci.edu. Code is available at https://github.com/uci-cbcl/UFold.

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  4. Abstract

    Understanding global communications among cells requires accurate representation of cell-cell signaling links and effective systems-level analyses of those links. We construct a database of interactions among ligands, receptors and their cofactors that accurately represent known heteromeric molecular complexes. We then develop CellChat, a tool that is able to quantitatively infer and analyze intercellular communication networks from single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) data. CellChat predicts major signaling inputs and outputs for cells and how those cells and signals coordinate for functions using network analysis and pattern recognition approaches. Through manifold learning and quantitative contrasts, CellChat classifies signaling pathways and delineates conserved andmore »context-specific pathways across different datasets. Applying CellChat to mouse and human skin datasets shows its ability to extract complex signaling patterns. Our versatile and easy-to-use toolkit CellChat and a web-based Explorer (http://www.cellchat.org/) will help discover novel intercellular communications and build cell-cell communication atlases in diverse tissues.

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  5. Abstract

    Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) provides details for individual cells; however, crucial spatial information is often lost. We present SpaOTsc, a method relying on structured optimal transport to recover spatial properties of scRNA-seq data by utilizing spatial measurements of a relatively small number of genes. A spatial metric for individual cells in scRNA-seq data is first established based on a map connecting it with the spatial measurements. The cell–cell communications are then obtained by “optimally transporting” signal senders to target signal receivers in space. Using partial information decomposition, we next compute the intercellular gene–gene information flow to estimate the spatialmore »regulations between genes across cells. Four datasets are employed for cross-validation of spatial gene expression prediction and comparison to known cell–cell communications. SpaOTsc has broader applications, both in integrating non-spatial single-cell measurements with spatial data, and directly in spatial single-cell transcriptomics data to reconstruct spatial cellular dynamics in tissues.

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  6. Abstract The rapid development of spatial transcriptomics (ST) techniques has allowed the measurement of transcriptional levels across many genes together with the spatial positions of cells. This has led to an explosion of interest in computational methods and techniques for harnessing both spatial and transcriptional information in analysis of ST datasets. The wide diversity of approaches in aim, methodology and technology for ST provides great challenges in dissecting cellular functions in spatial contexts. Here, we synthesize and review the key problems in analysis of ST data and methods that are currently applied, while also expanding on open questions and areasmore »of future development.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  7. Abstract Breast cancer is a heterogenous disease that can be classified into multiple subtypes including the most aggressive basal-like and triple-negative subtypes. Understanding the heterogeneity within the normal mammary basal epithelial cells holds the key to inform us about basal-like cancer cell differentiation dynamics as well as potential cells of origin. Although it is known that the mammary basal compartment contains small pools of stem cells that fuel normal tissue morphogenesis and regeneration, a comprehensive yet focused analysis of the transcriptional makeup of the basal cells is lacking. We used single-cell RNA-sequencing and multiplexed RNA in-situ hybridization to characterize mammarymore »basal cell heterogeneity. We used bioinformatic and computational pipelines to characterize the molecular features as well as predict differentiation dynamics and cell–cell communications of the newly identified basal cell states. We used genetic cell labeling to map the in vivo fates of cells in one of these states. We identified four major distinct transcriptional states within the mammary basal cells that exhibit gene expression signatures suggestive of different functional activity and metabolic preference. Our in vivo labeling and ex vivo organoid culture data suggest that one of these states, marked by Egr2 expression, represents a dynamic transcriptional state that all basal cells transit through during pubertal mammary morphogenesis. Our study provides a systematic approach to understanding the molecular heterogeneity of mammary basal cells and identifies previously unknown dynamics of basal cell transcriptional states.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
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  9. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 16, 2023
  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023