Integrated molecular imaging reveals tissue heterogeneity driving host-pathogen interactions


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Abstract

Diseases are characterized by distinct changes in tissue molecular distribution. Molecular analysis of intact tissues traditionally requires preexisting knowledge of, and reagents for, the targets of interest. Conversely, label-free discovery of disease-associated tissue analytes requires destructive processing for downstream identification platforms. Tissue-based analyses therefore sacrifice discovery to gain spatial distribution of known targets or sacrifice tissue architecture for discovery of unknown targets. To overcome these obstacles, we developed a multimodality imaging platform for discovery-based molecular histology. We apply this platform to a model of disseminated infection triggered by the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, leading to the discovery of infection-associated alterations in the distribution and abundance of proteins and elements in tissue in mice. These data provide an unbiased, three-dimensional analysis of how disease affects the molecular architecture of complex tissues, enable culture-free diagnosis of infection through imaging-based detection of bacterial and host analytes, and reveal molecular heterogeneity at the host-pathogen interface.

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