IMMUNOLOGY. An interactive reference framework for modeling a dynamic immune system


Spitzer MH, Gherardini PF, Fragiadakis GK, Bhattacharya N, Yuan RT, Hotson AN, Finck R, Carmi Y, Zunder ER, Fantl WJ, Bendall SC, Engleman EG, Nolan GP


Immune cells function in an interacting hierarchy that coordinates the activities of various cell types according to genetic and environmental contexts. We developed graphical approaches to construct an extensible immune reference map from mass cytometry data of cells from different organs, incorporating landmark cell populations as flags on the map to compare cells from distinct samples. The maps recapitulated canonical cellular phenotypes and revealed reproducible, tissue-specific deviations. The approach revealed influences of genetic variation and circadian rhythms on immune system structure, enabled direct comparisons of murine and human blood cell phenotypes, and even enabled archival fluorescence-based flow cytometry data to be mapped onto the reference framework. This foundational reference map provides a working definition of systemic immune organization to which new data can be integrated to reveal deviations driven by genetics, environment, or pathology.