- Keywords: Computational biology, image synthesis, GANs, exploring multiplex images, attention, interpretability
- TL;DR: We explore cell-cell interactions across tumor environment contexts observed in highly multiplexed images, by image synthesis using a novel attention GAN architecture.
- Abstract: Cell-cell interactions have an integral role in tumorigenesis as they are critical in governing immune responses. As such, investigating specific cell-cell interactions has the potential to not only expand upon the understanding of tumorigenesis, but also guide clinical management of patient responses to cancer immunotherapies. A recent imaging technique for exploring cell-cell interactions, multiplexed ion beam imaging by time-of-flight (MIBI-TOF), allows for cells to be quantified in 36 different protein markers at sub-cellular resolutions in situ as high resolution multiplexed images. To explore the MIBI images, we propose a GAN for multiplexed data with protein specific attention. By conditioning image generation on cell types, sizes, and neighborhoods through semantic segmentation maps, we are able to observe how these factors affect cell-cell interactions simultaneously in different protein channels. Furthermore, we design a set of metrics and offer the first insights towards cell spatial orientations, cell protein expressions, and cell neighborhoods. Our model, cell-cell interaction GAN (CCIGAN), outperforms or matches existing image synthesis methods on all conventional measures and significantly outperforms on biologically motivated metrics. To our knowledge, we are the first to systematically model multiple cellular protein behaviors and interactions under simulated conditions through image synthesis.
- Code: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AEr6eSOum79JZRht6aFkd12EXynCGFOT/view?usp=sharing