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Title: Single-cell generalized trend model (scGTM): a flexible and interpretable model of gene expression trend along cell pseudotime
Abstract Motivation

Modeling single-cell gene expression trends along cell pseudotime is a crucial analysis for exploring biological processes. Most existing methods rely on nonparametric regression models for their flexibility; however, nonparametric models often provide trends too complex to interpret. Other existing methods use interpretable but restrictive models. Since model interpretability and flexibility are both indispensable for understanding biological processes, the single-cell field needs a model that improves the interpretability and largely maintains the flexibility of nonparametric regression models.

Results

Here, we propose the single-cell generalized trend model (scGTM) for capturing a gene’s expression trend, which may be monotone, hill-shaped or valley-shaped, along cell pseudotime. The scGTM has three advantages: (i) it can capture non-monotonic trends that are easy to interpret, (ii) its parameters are biologically interpretable and trend informative, and (iii) it can flexibly accommodate common distributions for modeling gene expression counts. To tackle the complex optimization problems, we use the particle swarm optimization algorithm to find the constrained maximum likelihood estimates for the scGTM parameters. As an application, we analyze several single-cell gene expression datasets using the scGTM and show that scGTM can capture interpretable gene expression trends along cell pseudotime and reveal molecular insights underlying biological processes.

Availability and implementation

The more » Python package scGTM is open-access and available at https://github.com/ElvisCuiHan/scGTM.

Supplementary information

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10369394
Journal Name:
Bioinformatics
Volume:
38
Issue:
16
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 3927-3934
ISSN:
1367-4803
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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