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PLoS Comput Biol. 2015 Jun 24;11(6):e1004333. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004333. eCollection 2015 Jun.

BASiCS: Bayesian Analysis of Single-Cell Sequencing Data.

Author information

1
MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, Cambridge, United Kingdom; EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
2
EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
3
MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Single-cell mRNA sequencing can uncover novel cell-to-cell heterogeneity in gene expression levels in seemingly homogeneous populations of cells. However, these experiments are prone to high levels of unexplained technical noise, creating new challenges for identifying genes that show genuine heterogeneous expression within the population of cells under study. BASiCS (Bayesian Analysis of Single-Cell Sequencing data) is an integrated Bayesian hierarchical model where: (i) cell-specific normalisation constants are estimated as part of the model parameters, (ii) technical variability is quantified based on spike-in genes that are artificially introduced to each analysed cell's lysate and (iii) the total variability of the expression counts is decomposed into technical and biological components. BASiCS also provides an intuitive detection criterion for highly (or lowly) variable genes within the population of cells under study. This is formalised by means of tail posterior probabilities associated to high (or low) biological cell-to-cell variance contributions, quantities that can be easily interpreted by users. We demonstrate our method using gene expression measurements from mouse Embryonic Stem Cells. Cross-validation and meaningful enrichment of gene ontology categories within genes classified as highly (or lowly) variable supports the efficacy of our approach.

PMID:
26107944
PMCID:
PMC4480965
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004333
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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