Space-feature measures on meshes for mapping spatial transcriptomics

Michael I. Miller a, Alain Trouvé b, Laurent Younes
Medical Image Analysis (2024)


Advances in the development of largely automated microscopy methods such as MERFISH for imaging cellular structures in mouse brains are providing spatial detection of micron resolution gene expression. While there has been tremendous progress made in the field of Computational Anatomy (CA) to perform diffeomorphic mapping technologies at the tissue scales for advanced neuroinformatic studies in common coordinates, integration of molecular- and cellular-scale populations through statistical averaging via common coordinates remains yet unattained. This paper describes the first set of algorithms for calculating geodesics in the space of diffeomorphisms, what we term space-feature-measure LDDMM, extending the family of large deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping (LDDMM) algorithms to accommodate a space-feature action on marked particles which extends consistently to the tissue scales. It leads to the derivation of a cross-modality alignment algorithm of transcriptomic data to common coordinate systems attached to standard atlases.

We represent the brain data as geometric measures, termed as space-feature measures supported by a large number of unstructured points, each point representing a small volume in space and carrying a list of densities of features elements of a high-dimensional feature space. The shape of space-feature measure brain spaces is measured by transforming them by diffeomorphisms. The metric between these measures is obtained after embedding these objects in a linear space equipped with the norm, yielding a so-called “chordal metric”.