skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, May 17 until 8:00 AM ET on Saturday, May 18 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: netNMF-sc: Leveraging gene-gene interactions for imputation and dimensionality reduction in single-cell expression analysis
Single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) enables high throughput measurement of RNA expression in individual cells. Due to technical limitations, scRNA-seq data often contain zero counts for many transcripts in individual cells. These zero counts, or dropout events, complicate the analysis of scRNA-seq data using standard analysis methods developed for bulk RNA-seq data. Current scRNA-seq analysis methods typically overcome dropout by combining information across cells, leveraging the observation that cells generally occupy a small number of RNA expression states. We introduce netNMF-sc, an algorithm for scRNA-seq analysis that leverages information across both cells and genes. netNMF-sc combines network-regularized non-negative matrix factorization with a procedure for handling zero inflation in transcript count matrices. The matrix factorization results in a low-dimensional representation of the transcript count matrix, which imputes gene abundance for both zero and non-zero entries and can be used to cluster cells. The network regularization leverages prior knowledge of gene-gene interactions, encouraging pairs of genes with known interactions to be close in the low-dimensional representation. We show that netNMF-sc outperforms existing methods on simulated and real scRNA-seq data, with increasing advantage at higher dropout rates (e.g. above 60%). Furthermore, we show that the results from netNMF-sc -- including estimation of gene-gene covariance -- are robust to choice of network, with more representative networks leading to greater performance gains.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1750729
NSF-PAR ID:
10099323
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Research in Computational Biology (RECOMB)
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract A main challenge in analyzing single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data is to reduce technical variations yet retain cell heterogeneity. Due to low mRNAs content per cell and molecule losses during the experiment (called ‘dropout’), the gene expression matrix has a substantial amount of zero read counts. Existing imputation methods treat either each cell or each gene as independently and identically distributed, which oversimplifies the gene correlation and cell type structure. We propose a statistical model-based approach, called SIMPLEs (SIngle-cell RNA-seq iMPutation and celL clustErings), which iteratively identifies correlated gene modules and cell clusters and imputes dropouts customized for individual gene module and cell type. Simultaneously, it quantifies the uncertainty of imputation and cell clustering via multiple imputations. In simulations, SIMPLEs performed significantly better than prevailing scRNA-seq imputation methods according to various metrics. By applying SIMPLEs to several real datasets, we discovered gene modules that can further classify subtypes of cells. Our imputations successfully recovered the expression trends of marker genes in stem cell differentiation and can discover putative pathways regulating biological processes. 
    more » « less
  2. ABSTRACT: Motivation Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) captures whole transcriptome information of individual cells. While scRNA-seq measures thousands of genes, researchers are often interested in only dozens to hundreds of genes for a closer study. Then, a question is how to select those informative genes from scRNA-seq data. Moreover, single-cell targeted gene profiling technologies are gaining popularity for their low costs, high sensitivity and extra (e.g. spatial) information; however, they typically can only measure up to a few hundred genes. Then another challenging question is how to select genes for targeted gene profiling based on existing scRNA-seq data. Results Here, we develop the single-cell Projective Non-negative Matrix Factorization (scPNMF) method to select informative genes from scRNA-seq data in an unsupervised way. Compared with existing gene selection methods, scPNMF has two advantages. First, its selected informative genes can better distinguish cell types. Second, it enables the alignment of new targeted gene profiling data with reference data in a low-dimensional space to facilitate the prediction of cell types in the new data. Technically, scPNMF modifies the PNMF algorithm for gene selection by changing the initialization and adding a basis selection step, which selects informative bases to distinguish cell types. We demonstrate that scPNMF outperforms the state-of-the-art gene selection methods on diverse scRNA-seq datasets. Moreover, we show that scPNMF can guide the design of targeted gene profiling experiments and the cell-type annotation on targeted gene profiling data. Availability and implementation The R package is open-access and available at https://github.com/JSB-UCLA/scPNMF. The data used in this work are available at Zenodo: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4797997. Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Summary

    With the advancements of high-throughput single-cell RNA-sequencing protocols, there has been a rapid increase in the tools available to perform an array of analyses on the gene expression data that results from such studies. For example, there exist methods for pseudo-time series analysis, differential cell usage, cell-type detection RNA-velocity in single cells, etc. Most analysis pipelines validate their results using known marker genes (which are not widely available for all types of analysis) and by using simulated data from gene-count-level simulators. Typically, the impact of using different read-alignment or unique molecular identifier (UMI) deduplication methods has not been widely explored. Assessments based on simulation tend to start at the level of assuming a simulated count matrix, ignoring the effect that different approaches for resolving UMI counts from the raw read data may produce. Here, we present minnow, a comprehensive sequence-level droplet-based single-cell RNA-sequencing (dscRNA-seq) experiment simulation framework. Minnow accounts for important sequence-level characteristics of experimental scRNA-seq datasets and models effects such as polymerase chain reaction amplification, cellular barcodes (CB) and UMI selection and sequence fragmentation and sequencing. It also closely matches the gene-level ambiguity characteristics that are observed in real scRNA-seq experiments. Using minnow, we explore the performance of some common processing pipelines to produce gene-by-cell count matrices from droplet-bases scRNA-seq data, demonstrate the effect that realistic levels of gene-level sequence ambiguity can have on accurate quantification and show a typical use-case of minnow in assessing the output generated by different quantification pipelines on the simulated experiment.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract Background

    Single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) technologies allow for the study of gene expression in individual cells. Often, it is of interest to understand how transcriptional activity is associated with cell-specific covariates, such as cell type, genotype, or measures of cell health. Traditional approaches for this type of association mapping assume independence between the outcome variables (or genes), and perform a separate regression for each. However, these methods are computationally costly and ignore the substantial correlation structure of gene expression. Furthermore, count-based scRNA-seq data pose challenges for traditional models based on Gaussian assumptions.

    Results

    We aim to resolve these issues by developing a reduced-rank regression model that identifies low-dimensional linear associations between a large number of cell-specific covariates and high-dimensional gene expression readouts. Our probabilistic model uses a Poisson likelihood in order to account for the unique structure of scRNA-seq counts. We demonstrate the performance of our model using simulations, and we apply our model to a scRNA-seq dataset, a spatial gene expression dataset, and a bulk RNA-seq dataset to show its behavior in three distinct analyses.

    Conclusion

    We show that our statistical modeling approach, which is based on reduced-rank regression, captures associations between gene expression and cell- and sample-specific covariates by leveraging low-dimensional representations of transcriptional states.

     
    more » « less
  5. One important characteristic of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data is its high sparsity, where the gene-cell count data matrix contains high proportion of zeros. The sparsity has motivated widespread discussions on dropouts and missing data, as well as imputation algorithms of scRNA-seq analysis. Here, we aim to investigate whether there exist genes that are more prone to be under-detected in scRNA-seq, and if yes, what commonalities those genes may share. From public data sources, we gathered paired bulk RNA-seq and scRNA-seq data from 53 human samples, which were generated in diverse biological contexts. We derived pseudo-bulk gene expression by averaging the scRNA-seq data across cells. Comparisons of the paired bulk and pseudo-bulk gene expression profiles revealed that there indeed exists a collection of genes that are frequently under-detected in scRNA-seq compared to bulk RNA-seq. This result was robust to randomization when unpaired bulk and pseudo-bulk gene expression profiles were compared. We performed motif search to the last 350 bp of the identified genes, and observed an enrichment of poly(T) motif. The poly(T) motif toward the tails of those genes may be able to form hairpin structures with the poly(A) tails of their mRNA transcripts, making it difficult for their mRNA transcripts to be captured during scRNA-seq library preparation, which is a mechanistic conjecture of why certain genes may be more prone to be under-detected in scRNA-seq. 
    more » « less