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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Accurate estimation of cell composition in bulk expression through robust integration of single-cell information.

  • Author(s): Jew, Brandon
  • Alvarez, Marcus
  • Rahmani, Elior
  • Miao, Zong
  • Ko, Arthur
  • Garske, Kristina M
  • Sul, Jae Hoon
  • Pietiläinen, Kirsi H
  • Pajukanta, Päivi
  • Halperin, Eran
  • et al.

We present Bisque, a tool for estimating cell type proportions in bulk expression. Bisque implements a regression-based approach that utilizes single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) or single-nucleus RNA-seq (snRNA-seq) data to generate a reference expression profile and learn gene-specific bulk expression transformations to robustly decompose RNA-seq data. These transformations significantly improve decomposition performance compared to existing methods when there is significant technical variation in the generation of the reference profile and observed bulk expression. Importantly, compared to existing methods, our approach is extremely efficient, making it suitable for the analysis of large genomic datasets that are becoming ubiquitous. When applied to subcutaneous adipose and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex expression datasets with both bulk RNA-seq and snRNA-seq data, Bisque replicates previously reported associations between cell type proportions and measured phenotypes across abundant and rare cell types. We further propose an additional mode of operation that merely requires a set of known marker genes.

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