skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2024

Title: The Poisson distribution model fits UMI-based single-cell RNA-sequencing data
Abstract Background Modeling of single cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) data remains challenging due to a high percentage of zeros and data heterogeneity, so improved modeling has strong potential to benefit many downstream data analyses. The existing zero-inflated or over-dispersed models are based on aggregations at either the gene or the cell level. However, they typically lose accuracy due to a too crude aggregation at those two levels. Results We avoid the crude approximations entailed by such aggregation through proposing an independent Poisson distribution (IPD) particularly at each individual entry in the scRNA-seq data matrix. This approach naturally and intuitively models the large number of zeros as matrix entries with a very small Poisson parameter. The critical challenge of cell clustering is approached via a novel data representation as Departures from a simple homogeneous IPD (DIPD) to capture the per-gene-per-cell intrinsic heterogeneity generated by cell clusters. Our experiments using real data and crafted experiments show that using DIPD as a data representation for scRNA-seq data can uncover novel cell subtypes that are missed or can only be found by careful parameter tuning using conventional methods. Conclusions This new method has multiple advantages, including (1) no need for prior feature selection or manual optimization of hyperparameters; (2) flexibility to combine with and improve upon other methods, such as Seurat. Another novel contribution is the use of crafted experiments as part of the validation of our newly developed DIPD-based clustering pipeline. This new clustering pipeline is implemented in the R (CRAN) package scpoisson .  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2113404
NSF-PAR ID:
10436731
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
BMC Bioinformatics
Volume:
24
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1471-2105
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. Spatially resolved scRNA-seq (sp-scRNA-seq) technologies provide the potential to comprehensively profile gene expression patterns in tissue context. However, the development of computational methods lags behind the advances in these technologies, which limits the fulfillment of their potential. In this study, we develop a deep learning approach for clustering sp-scRNA-seq data, named Deep Spatially constrained Single-cell Clustering (DSSC). In this model, we integrate the spatial information of cells into the clustering process in two steps: (1) the spatial information is encoded by using a graphical neural network model, and (2) cell-to-cell constraints are built based on the spatial expression pattern of the marker genes and added in the model to guide the clustering process. Then, a deep embedding clustering is performed on the bottleneck layer of autoencoder by Kullback–Leibler (KL) divergence along with the learning of feature representation. DSSC is the first model that can use information from both spatial coordinates and marker genes to guide cell/spot clustering. Extensive experiments on both simulated and real data sets show that DSSC boosts clustering performance significantly compared with the state-of-the-art methods. It has robust performance across different data sets with various cell type/tissue organization and/or cell type/tissue spatial dependency. We conclude that DSSC is a promising tool for clustering sp-scRNA-seq data. 
    more » « 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 similarity 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 https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/RCSL/index.html. Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. 
    more » « less
  4. 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
  5. 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