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CellWalker integrates single-cell and bulk data to resolve regulatory elements across cell types in complex tissues.

  • Author(s): Przytycki, Pawel F
  • Pollard, Katherine S
  • et al.

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Single-cell and bulk genomics assays have complementary strengths and weaknesses, and alone neither strategy can fully capture regulatory elements across the diversity of cells in complex tissues. We present CellWalker, a method that integrates single-cell open chromatin (scATAC-seq) data with gene expression (RNA-seq) and other data types using a network model that simultaneously improves cell labeling in noisy scATAC-seq and annotates cell type-specific regulatory elements in bulk data. We demonstrate CellWalker's robustness to sparse annotations and noise using simulations and combined RNA-seq and ATAC-seq in individual cells. We then apply CellWalker to the developing brain. We identify cells transitioning between transcriptional states, resolve regulatory elements to cell types, and observe that autism and other neurological traits can be mapped to specific cell types through their regulatory elements.

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