Published on Fri Jul 16 2021

NOBIAS: Analyzing anomalous diffusion in single-molecule tracks with nonparametric Bayesian inference

Chen, Z., Geffroy, L., Biteen, J. S.

Single particle tracking (SPT) enables the investigation of biomolecular dynamics at a high temporal and spatial resolution in living cells, and the analysis of these SPT datasets can reveal biochemical interactions and mechanisms. Still, how to make the best use of these tracking data for a broad set of experimental conditions remains an analysis challenge in the field. Here, we develop a new SPT analysis framework: NOBIAS (Nonparametric Bayesian Inference for Anomalous Diffusion in Single-Molecule Tracking), which applies nonparametric Bayesian statistics and deep learning approaches to thoroughly analyze SPT datasets. In particular, NOBIAS handles complicated live-cell SPT data for which: the number of diffusive states is unknown, mixtures of different diffusive populations may exist within single trajectories, symmetry cannot be assumed between the x and y directions, and anomalous diffusion is possible. NOBIAS provides the number of diffusive states without manual supervision, it quantifies the dynamics and relative populations of each diffusive state, it provides the transition probabilities between states, and it assesses the anomalous diffusion behavior for each state. We validate the performance of NOBIAS with simulated datasets and apply it to the diffusion of single outer-membrane proteins in Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. Furthermore, we compare NOBIAS with other SPT analysis methods and find that, in addition to these advantages, NOBIAS is robust and has high computational efficiency and is particularly advantageous due to its ability to treat experimental trajectories with asymmetry and anomalous diffusion.