skip to main content

Title: Integration and transfer learning of single-cell transcriptomes via cFIT
Large, comprehensive collections of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) datasets have been generated that allow for the full transcriptional characterization of cell types across a wide variety of biological and clinical conditions. As new methods arise to measure distinct cellular modalities, a key analytical challenge is to integrate these datasets or transfer knowledge from one to the other to better understand cellular identity and functions. Here, we present a simple yet surprisingly effective method named common factor integration and transfer learning (cFIT) for capturing various batch effects across experiments, technologies, subjects, and even species. The proposed method models the shared information between various datasets by a common factor space while allowing for unique distortions and shifts in genewise expression in each batch. The model parameters are learned under an iterative nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF) framework and then used for synchronized integration from across-domain assays. In addition, the model enables transferring via low-rank matrix from more informative data to allow for precise identification in data of lower quality. Compared with existing approaches, our method imposes weaker assumptions on the cell composition of each individual dataset; however, it is shown to be more reliable in preserving biological variations. We apply cFIT to multiple more » scRNA-seq datasets of developing brain from human and mouse, varying by technologies and developmental stages. The successful integration and transfer uncover the transcriptional resemblance across systems. The study helps establish a comprehensive landscape of brain cell-type diversity and provides insights into brain development. « less
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2015447 2147546 2007911
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Single cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) technology enables comprehensive transcriptomic profiling of thousands of cells with distinct phenotypic and physiological states in a complex tissue. Substantial efforts have been made to characterize single cells of distinct identities from scRNA-seq data, including various cell clustering techniques. While existing approaches can handle single cells in terms of different cell (sub)types at a high resolution, identification of the functional variability within the same cell type remains unsolved. In addition, there is a lack of robust method to handle the inter-subject variation that often brings severe confounding effects for the functional clustering of single cells. In this study, we developed a novel data denoising and cell clustering approach, namely CIBS, to provide biologically explainable functional classification for scRNA-seq data. CIBS is based on a systems biology model of transcriptional regulation that assumes a multi-modality distribution of the cells’ activation status, and it utilizes a Boolean matrix factorization approach on the discretized expression status to robustly derive functional modules. CIBS is empowered by a novel fast Boolean Matrix Factorization method, namely PFAST, to increase the computational feasibility on large scale scRNA-seq data. Application of CIBS on two scRNA-seq datasets collected from cancer tumor micro-environment successfully identified subgroupsmore »of cancer cells with distinct expression patterns of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and extracellular matrix marker genes, which was not revealed by the existing cell clustering analysis tools. The identified cell groups were significantly associated with the clinically confirmed lymph-node invasion and metastasis events across different patients. Index Terms—Cell clustering analysis, Data denoising, Boolean matrix factorization, Cancer microenvirionment, Metastasis.« less
  2. Comprehensive and accurate comparisons of transcriptomic distributions of cells from samples taken from two different biological states, such as healthy versus diseased individuals, are an emerging challenge in single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) analysis. Current methods for detecting differentially abundant (DA) subpopulations between samples rely heavily on initial clustering of all cells in both samples. Often, this clustering step is inadequate since the DA subpopulations may not align with a clear cluster structure, and important differences between the two biological states can be missed. Here, we introduce DA-seq, a targeted approach for identifying DA subpopulations not restricted to clusters. DA-seq is a multiscale method that quantifies a local DA measure for each cell, which is computed from its k nearest neighboring cells across a range of k values. Based on this measure, DA-seq delineates contiguous significant DA subpopulations in the transcriptomic space. We apply DA-seq to several scRNA-seq datasets and highlight its improved ability to detect differences between distinct phenotypes in severe versus mildly ill COVID-19 patients, melanomas subjected to immune checkpoint therapy comparing responders to nonresponders, embryonic development at two time points, and young versus aging brain tissue. DA-seq enabled us to detect differences between these phenotypes. Importantly, we findmore »that DA-seq not only recovers the DA cell types as discovered in the original studies but also reveals additional DA subpopulations that were not described before. Analysis of these subpopulations yields biological insights that would otherwise be undetected using conventional computational approaches.« less
  3. Mathelier, Anthony (Ed.)
    Abstract Motivation Recent breakthroughs of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technologies offer an exciting opportunity to identify heterogeneous cell types in complex tissues. However, the unavoidable biological noise and technical artifacts in scRNA-seq data as well as the high dimensionality of expression vectors make the problem highly challenging. Consequently, although numerous tools have been developed, their accuracy remains to be improved. Results Here, we introduce a novel clustering algorithm and tool RCSL (Rank Constrained Similarity Learning) to accurately identify various cell types using scRNA-seq data from a complex tissue. RCSL considers both local similarity and global similarity among the cells to discern the subtle differences among cells of the same type as well as larger differences among cells of different types. RCSL uses Spearman’s rank correlations of a cell’s expression vector with those of other cells to measure its global similarity, and adaptively learns neighbor representation of a cell as its local similarity. The overall similarity of a cell to other cells is a linear combination of its global similarity and local similarity. RCSL automatically estimates the number of cell types defined in the similarity matrix, and identifies them by constructing a block-diagonal matrix, such that its distance to the similaritymore »matrix is minimized. Each block-diagonal submatrix is a cell cluster/type, corresponding to a connected component in the cognate similarity graph. When tested on 16 benchmark scRNA-seq datasets in which the cell types are well-annotated, RCSL substantially outperformed six state-of-the-art methods in accuracy and robustness as measured by three metrics. Availability and implementation The RCSL algorithm is implemented in R and can be freely downloaded at Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.« less
  4. Abstract Motivation Single-cell sequencing assay for transposase-accessible chromatin (scATAC-seq) provides new opportunities to dissect epigenomic heterogeneity and elucidate transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. However, computational modeling of scATAC-seq data is challenging due to its high dimension, extreme sparsity, complex dependencies and high sensitivity to confounding factors from various sources. Results Here, we propose a new deep generative model framework, named SAILER, for analyzing scATAC-seq data. SAILER aims to learn a low-dimensional nonlinear latent representation of each cell that defines its intrinsic chromatin state, invariant to extrinsic confounding factors like read depth and batch effects. SAILER adopts the conventional encoder-decoder framework to learn the latent representation but imposes additional constraints to ensure the independence of the learned representations from the confounding factors. Experimental results on both simulated and real scATAC-seq datasets demonstrate that SAILER learns better and biologically more meaningful representations of cells than other methods. Its noise-free cell embeddings bring in significant benefits in downstream analyses: clustering and imputation based on SAILER result in 6.9% and 18.5% improvements over existing methods, respectively. Moreover, because no matrix factorization is involved, SAILER can easily scale to process millions of cells. We implemented SAILER into a software package, freely available to all for large-scale scATAC-seqmore »data analysis. Availability and implementation The software is publicly available at Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.« less
  5. 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 performancemore »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.« less