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Data from: Single cell RNA-seq analysis reveals that prenatal arsenic exposure results in long-term, adverse effects on immune gene expression in response to Influenza A infection


Goodale, Britton et al. (2020), Data from: Single cell RNA-seq analysis reveals that prenatal arsenic exposure results in long-term, adverse effects on immune gene expression in response to Influenza A infection, Dryad, Dataset,


Arsenic exposure via drinking water is a serious environmental health concern. Epidemiological studies suggest a strong association between prenatal arsenic exposure and subsequent childhood respiratory infections, as well as morbidity from respiratory diseases in adulthood, long after systemic clearance of arsenic. We investigated the impact of exclusive prenatal arsenic exposure on the inflammatory immune response and respiratory health after an adult influenza A (IAV) lung infection. C57BL/6J mice were exposed to 100 ppb sodium arsenite in utero, and subsequently infected with IAV (H1N1) after maturation to adulthood. Assessment of lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) at various time points post IAV infection reveals greater lung damage and inflammation in arsenic exposed mice versus control mice. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of immune cells harvested from IAV infected lungs suggests that the enhanced inflammatory response is mediated by dysregulation of innate immune function of monocyte derived macrophages, neutrophils, NK cells, and alveolar macrophages. Our results suggest that prenatal arsenic exposure results in lasting effects on the adult host innate immune response to IAV infection, long after exposure to arsenic, leading to greater immunopathology. This study provides the first direct evidence that exclusive prenatal exposure to arsenic in drinking water causes predisposition to a hyperinflammatory response to IAV infection in adult mice, which is associated with significant lung damage.


Whole lung homogenate preparation for single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq).

Lungs were perfused with PBS via the right ventricle, harvested, and mechanically disassociated prior to straining through 70- and 30-µm filters to obtain a single-cell suspension. Dead cells were removed (annexin V EasySep kit, StemCell Technologies, Vancouver, Canada), and samples were enriched for cells of hematopoetic origin by magnetic separation using anti-CD45-conjugated microbeads (Miltenyi, Auburn, CA). Single-cell suspensions of 6 samples were loaded on a Chromium Single Cell system (10X Genomics) to generate barcoded single-cell gel beads in emulsion, and scRNA-seq libraries were prepared using Single Cell 3’ Version 2 chemistry. Libraries were multiplexed and sequenced on 4 lanes of a Nextseq 500 sequencer (Illumina) with 3 sequencing runs. Demultiplexing and barcode processing of raw sequencing data was conducted using Cell Ranger v. 3.0.1 (10X Genomics; Dartmouth Genomics Shared Resource Core). Reads were aligned to mouse (GRCm38) and influenza A virus (A/PR8/34, genome build GCF_000865725.1) genomes to generate unique molecular index (UMI) count matrices. Gene expression data have been deposited in the NCBI GEO database and are available at accession # GSE142047.

Preprocessing of single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data

Count matrices produced using Cell Ranger were analyzed in the R statistical working environment (version 3.6.1). Preliminary visualization and quality analysis were conducted using scran (v 1.14.3, Lun et al., 2016) and Scater (v. 1.14.1, McCarthy et al., 2017) to identify thresholds for cell quality and feature filtering. Sample matrices were imported into Seurat (v. 3.1.1, Stuart., et al., 2019) and the percentage of mitochondrial, hemoglobin, and influenza A viral transcripts calculated per cell. Cells with < 1000 or > 20,000 unique molecular identifiers (UMIs: low quality and doublets), fewer than 300 features (low quality), greater than 10% of reads mapped to mitochondrial genes (dying) or greater than 1% of reads mapped to hemoglobin genes (red blood cells) were filtered from further analysis. Total cells per sample after filtering ranged from 1895-2482, no significant difference in the number of cells was observed in arsenic vs. control. Data were then normalized using SCTransform (Hafemeister et al., 2019) and variable features identified for each sample. Integration anchors between samples were identified using canonical correlation analysis (CCA) and mutual nearest neighbors (MNNs), as implemented in Seurat V3 (Stuart., et al., 2019) and used to integrate samples into a shared space for further comparison. This process enables identification of shared populations of cells between samples, even in the presence of technical or biological differences, while also allowing for non-overlapping populations that are unique to individual samples.

Clustering and reference-based cell identity labeling of single immune cells from IAV-infected lung with scRNA-seq

Principal components were identified from the integrated dataset and were used for Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP) visualization of the data in two-dimensional space. A shared-nearest-neighbor (SNN) graph was constructed using default parameters, and clusters identified using the SLM algorithm in Seurat at a range of resolutions (0.2-2). The first 30 principal components were used to identify 22 cell clusters ranging in size from 25 to 2310 cells. Gene markers for clusters were identified with the findMarkers function in scran. To label individual cells with cell type identities, we used the singleR package (v. 3.1.1) to compare gene expression profiles of individual cells with expression data from curated, FACS-sorted leukocyte samples in the Immgen compendium (Aran D. et al., 2019; Heng et al., 2008). We manually updated the Immgen reference annotation with 263 sample group labels for fine-grain analysis and 25 CD45+ cell type identities based on markers used to sort Immgen samples (Guilliams et al., 2014). The reference annotation is provided in Table S2, cells that were not labeled confidently after label pruning were assigned “Unknown”.

Differential gene expression by immune cells

Differential gene expression within individual cell types was performed by pooling raw count data from cells of each cell type on a per-sample basis to create a pseudo-bulk count table for each cell type. Differential expression analysis was only performed on cell types that were sufficiently represented (>10 cells) in each sample. In droplet-based scRNA-seq, ambient RNA from lysed cells is incorporated into droplets, and can result in spurious identification of these genes in cell types where they aren’t actually expressed. We therefore used a method developed by Young and Behjati (Young et al., 2018) to estimate the contribution of ambient RNA for each gene, and identified genes in each cell type that were estimated to be > 25% ambient-derived. These genes were excluded from analysis in a cell-type specific manner. Genes expressed in less than 5 percent of cells were also excluded from analysis. Differential expression analysis was then performed in Limma (limma-voom with quality weights) following a standard protocol for bulk RNA-seq (Law et al., 2014). Significant genes were identified using MA/QC criteria of P < .05, log2FC >1.

Analysis of arsenic effect on immune cell gene expression by scRNA-seq.

Sample-wide effects of arsenic on gene expression were identified by pooling raw count data from all cells per sample to create a count table for pseudo-bulk gene expression analysis. Genes with less than 20 counts in any sample, or less than 60 total counts were excluded from analysis. Differential expression analysis was performed using limma-voom as described above.

Usage Notes

Files include an annotation file for reference expression profiles of cells in the Immgen compendium used for single cell RNA sequencing analysis, and results of the analysis (differentially expressed genes identified in individual cell types and a pseudo-bulk analysis of all immune cells isolated from mouse lung). See README file for Table legends


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Award: HL122585

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Award: P42ES007373