SPRITE: improving spatial gene expression imputation with gene and cell networks

View ORCID ProfileEric D. Sun, Rong Ma, James Zou
bioRxiv (2024)


Spatially resolved single-cell transcriptomics have provided unprecedented insights into gene expression in situ, particularly in the context of cell interactions or organization of tissues. However, current technologies for profiling spatial gene expression at single-cell resolution are generally limited to the measurement of a small number of genes. To address this limitation, several algorithms have been developed to impute or predict the expression of additional genes that were not present in the measured gene panel. Current algorithms do not leverage the rich spatial and gene relational information in spatial transcriptomics. To improve spatial gene expression predictions, we introduce SPRITE (Spatial Propagation and Reinforcement of Imputed Transcript Expression) as a meta-algorithm that processes predictions obtained from existing methods by propagating information across gene correlation networks and spatial neighborhood graphs. SPRITE improves spatial gene expression predictions across multiple spatial transcriptomics datasets. Furthermore, SPRITE predicted spatial gene expression leads to improved clustering, visualization, and classification of cells. SPRITE is available as a software package and can be used in spatial transcriptomics data analysis to improve inferences based on predicted gene expression.