Single-cell transcriptomics unveils gene regulatory network plasticity

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Authors Giovanni Iancono, Ramon Massoni-Badosa, Holger Heyn
Journal/Conference Name Genome Biology
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Background Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) plays a pivotal role in our understanding of cellular heterogeneity. Current analytical workflows are driven by categorizing principles that consider cells as individual entities and classify them into complex taxonomies. Results We devise a conceptually different computational framework based on a holistic view, where single-cell datasets are used to infer global, large-scale regulatory networks. We develop correlation metrics that are specifically tailored to single-cell data, and then generate, validate, and interpret single-cell-derived regulatory networks from organs and perturbed systems, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Using tools from graph theory, we compute an unbiased quantification of a gene’s biological relevance and accurately pinpoint key players in organ function and drivers of diseases. Conclusions Our approach detects multiple latent regulatory changes that are invisible to single-cell workflows based on clustering or differential expression analysis, significantly broadening the biological insights that can be obtained with this leading technology.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language Html
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