Detection of allele-specific expression in spatial transcriptomics with spASE


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Allele-specific expression (ASE), or the preferential expression of one allele, can be observed in transcriptomics data from early development throughout the lifespan. However, the prevalence of spatial and cell type-specific ASE variation remains unclear. Spatial transcriptomics technologies permit the study of spatial ASE patterns genome-wide at near-single-cell resolution. However, the data are highly sparse, and confounding between cell type and spatial location present further statistical challenges. Here, we introduce spASE (, a computational framework for detecting spatial patterns in ASE within and across cell types from spatial transcriptomics data. To tackle the challenge presented by the low signal to noise ratio due to the sparsity of the data, we implement a spatial smoothing approach that greatly improves statistical power. We generated Slide-seqV2 data from the mouse hippocampus and detected ASE in X-chromosome genes, both within and across cell type, validating our ability to recover known ASE patterns. We demonstrate that our method can also identify cell type-specific effects, which we find can explain the majority of the spatial signal for autosomal genes. The findings facilitated by our method provide new insight into the uncharacterized landscape of spatial and cell type-specific ASE in the mouse hippocampus. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
spatial transcriptomics,allele-specific
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