Two-stage, in silico deconvolution of the lymphocyte compartment of the peripheral whole blood transcriptome in the context of acute kidney allograft rejection.

TitleTwo-stage, in silico deconvolution of the lymphocyte compartment of the peripheral whole blood transcriptome in the context of acute kidney allograft rejection.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsShannon, CP, Balshaw, R, Ng, RT, Wilson-McManus, JE, Keown, P, McMaster, R, McManus, BM, Landsberg, D, Isbel, NM, Knoll, G, Tebbutt, SJ
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue4
Paginatione95224
Date Published2014
ISSN1932-6203
Abstract

Acute rejection is a major complication of solid organ transplantation that prevents the long-term assimilation of the allograft. Various populations of lymphocytes are principal mediators of this process, infiltrating graft tissues and driving cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Understanding the lymphocyte-specific biology associated with rejection is therefore critical. Measuring genome-wide changes in transcript abundance in peripheral whole blood cells can deliver a comprehensive view of the status of the immune system. The heterogeneous nature of the tissue significantly affects the sensitivity and interpretability of traditional analyses, however. Experimental separation of cell types is an obvious solution, but is often impractical and, more worrying, may affect expression, leading to spurious results. Statistical deconvolution of the cell type-specific signal is an attractive alternative, but existing approaches still present some challenges, particularly in a clinical research setting. Obtaining time-matched sample composition to biologically interesting, phenotypically homogeneous cell sub-populations is costly and adds significant complexity to study design. We used a two-stage, in silico deconvolution approach that first predicts sample composition to biologically meaningful and homogeneous leukocyte sub-populations, and then performs cell type-specific differential expression analysis in these same sub-populations, from peripheral whole blood expression data. We applied this approach to a peripheral whole blood expression study of kidney allograft rejection. The patterns of differential composition uncovered are consistent with previous studies carried out using flow cytometry and provide a relevant biological context when interpreting cell type-specific differential expression results. We identified cell type-specific differential expression in a variety of leukocyte sub-populations at the time of rejection. The tissue-specificity of these differentially expressed probe-set lists is consistent with the originating tissue and their functional enrichment consistent with allograft rejection. Finally, we demonstrate that the strategy described here can be used to derive useful hypotheses by validating a cell type-specific ratio in an independent cohort using the nanoString nCounter assay.

DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0095224
Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID24733377
PubMed Central IDPMC3986379