1 Introduction

RETROFIT is a statistical method for reference-free deconvolution of spatial transcriptomics data to estimate cell type mixtures. In this Vignette, we will estimate cell type composition of a Colon dataset. We will annotate cell types using marker gene lists as well as single cell reference. We will also reproduce some of the results from the paper for illustration.

2 Package Installation and other requirements

Install and load the packages using the following steps:

if(!requireNamespace("BiocManager", quietly = TRUE))

3 Spatial Transcriptomics Data

First load the Colon ST data from fetal 12 PCW tissue, using the following command:

X = vignetteColonData$a3_x

4 Reference-free Deconvolution

Initialize the required parameters for deconvolution. - iterations: Number of iterations (default = 4000) - L: Number of components required

iterations  = 10
L           = 20

After initialization, run retrofit on the data (X) as follows:

result = retrofit::decompose(X, L=L, iterations=iterations, verbose=TRUE)
## [1] "iteration: 1 0.14 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 2 0.141 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 3 0.138 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 4 0.143 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 5 0.169 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 6 0.144 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 7 0.141 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 8 0.142 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 9 0.14 Seconds"
## [1] "iteration: 10 0.145 Seconds"
## [1] "Iteration mean:  0.144  seconds  total:  1.443  seconds"
H   = result$h
W   = result$w
Th  = result$th

After deconvolution of ST data, we have our estimates of W (a matrix of order G x L), H (a matrix of order L x S) and Theta (a vector of L components). Here, we are using number of iterations as 20 for demonstration purposes. For reproducing results in the paper, we need to run RETROFIT for iterations = 4000. The whole computation is omitted here due to time complexity (> 10min). We will load the results from 4000 iterations for the rest of the analysis.

H   = vignetteColonData$a3_results_4k_iterations$decompose$h
W   = vignetteColonData$a3_results_4k_iterations$decompose$w
Th  = vignetteColonData$a3_results_4k_iterations$decompose$th

Above results are obtained by running the code below.

iterations = 4000
result = retrofit::decompose(x, L=L, iterations=iterations)

Next, we need to annotate the components, to get the proportion of K cell types. We can do this in two ways: (a) using an annotated single cell reference or (b) using the known marker genes.

5 Cell-type Annotation via annotated single-cell reference

Here, we will annotate components using single-cell reference. Load the single-cell reference data:

sc_ref = vignetteColonData$sc_ref

This file contains average gene expression values for K=8 cell types. Run the following command to get K cell-type mixtures from the ST data X:

K = ncol(sc_ref) # number of cell types
result    = annotateWithCorrelations(sc_ref, K, W, H)
H_sc      = result$h
W_sc      = result$w
H_sc_prop = result$h_prop
W_sc_prop = result$w_prop

We assign components to the cell type it has maximum correlation with as shown in figure above. Finally, cell-type proportions for each spot in the ST data (X) are stored in H_mark_prop of order K x S. You can verify that the mappings from both methods are largely similar.

W_norm <- W
for(i in 1:nrow(W)){

corrplot::corrplot(stats::cor(sc_ref, W_norm), 
                   col = colorRampPalette(c("white", "deepskyblue", "blue4"))(100), 
                   main="Correlation-based Mapping Matrix")

6 Cell-type Annotation via known marker genes

Here, we will annotate using known marker genes for cell types. Load the marker gene list:

marker_ref = vignetteColonData$marker_ref

This file contains the list of marker genes for K = 8 cell types. Run the following command to get K cell-type mixtures from the ST data X:

K = length(marker_ref) # number of cell types
result      = retrofit::annotateWithMarkers(marker_ref, K, W, H)
H_mark      = result$h
W_mark      = result$w
H_mark_prop = result$h_prop
W_mark_prop = result$w_prop
gene_sums   = result$gene_sums
                   col=colorRampPalette(c("white", "deepskyblue", "blue4"))(100), 
                   main="Marker-based Mapping Matrix")

We assign components to the cell type it has maximum average marker expression in, as shown in figure above. Finally, cell-type proportions for each spot in the ST data (X) are stored in H_est of order K x S.

7 Results and visualization

Hereon, we will be reproducing some of the analysis from the paper using marker-based mapping results.

7.1 Figure 4A: Proportion of different cell types in the tissue.

Proportion of cell-types in this tissue:

## Endothelium  Epithelial Fibroblasts      Immune      Muscle    Myo.Meso 
##  0.13018273  0.13980586  0.24423669  0.09745911  0.12181790  0.10049303 
##      Neural   Pericytes 
##  0.09560567  0.07039902

7.2 Figure 4C: Localization of cell types with the dominant cell type in each spot

Load the coordinates for the spots in the tissue and the tissue image:

img <- png::readPNG(RCurl::getURLContent(""))
t <- grid::rasterGrob(img, width=ggplot2::unit(1,"npc"), height=ggplot2::unit(1,"npc"), interpolate = FALSE)

Find the cell-type with maximum proportion in each spot and plot:,t(H_mark_prop)))

for(i in 1:nrow(df)){
df$CellType=factor(df$CellType,levels=c("Epithelial", "Immune", "Myo.Meso","Muscle",
                                        "Neural", "Endothelium", "Pericytes","Fibroblasts"))

ggplot2::ggplot(df, ggplot2::aes(x=imagerow, y=imagecol))  +
  ggplot2::geom_point(size=1.8, shape=21, ggplot2::aes(fill=CellType))+
  ggplot2::scale_fill_manual(values=c("#999999", "#E69F00", "#56B4E9","#009E73", "#CC79A7",
                             "#0072B2", "#D55E00" ,"#F0E442"),
                    labels=c("Epithelial", "Immune","Myofibroblasts/\nMesothelium",
  ggplot2::xlab("") + ggplot2::ylab("") + ggplot2::theme_classic()+
  ggplot2::theme(legend.position = "none",
                 axis.line = ggplot2::element_blank(),
                 plot.margin = ggplot2::margin(-0.2, -0.2, 0.2, -1, "cm"), 
                 axis.text.x = ggplot2::element_blank(), axis.text.y = ggplot2::element_blank(),
                 axis.ticks.x = ggplot2::element_blank(),  axis.ticks.y = ggplot2::element_blank())