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Inference and multiscale model of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition via single-cell transcriptomic data.

  • Author(s): Sha, Yutong;
  • Wang, Shuxiong;
  • Zhou, Peijie;
  • Nie, Qing
  • et al.
Abstract

Rapid growth of single-cell transcriptomic data provides unprecedented opportunities for close scrutinizing of dynamical cellular processes. Through investigating epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), we develop an integrative tool that combines unsupervised learning of single-cell transcriptomic data and multiscale mathematical modeling to analyze transitions during cell fate decision. Our approach allows identification of individual cells making transition between all cell states, and inference of genes that drive transitions. Multiscale extractions of single-cell scale outputs naturally reveal intermediate cell states (ICS) and ICS-regulated transition trajectories, producing emergent population-scale models to be explored for design principles. Testing on the newly designed single-cell gene regulatory network model and applying to twelve published single-cell EMT datasets in cancer and embryogenesis, we uncover the roles of ICS on adaptation, noise attenuation, and transition efficiency in EMT, and reveal their trade-off relations. Overall, our unsupervised learning method is applicable to general single-cell transcriptomic datasets, and our integrative approach at single-cell resolution may be adopted for other cell fate transition systems beyond EMT.

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