DOI: 10.1093/bib/bbad266 ISSN: 1467-5463

scDeepInsight: a supervised cell-type identification method for scRNA-seq data with deep learning

Shangru Jia, Artem Lysenko, Keith A Boroevich, Alok Sharma, Tatsuhiko Tsunoda
  • Molecular Biology
  • Information Systems


Annotation of cell-types is a critical step in the analysis of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data that allows the study of heterogeneity across multiple cell populations. Currently, this is most commonly done using unsupervised clustering algorithms, which project single-cell expression data into a lower dimensional space and then cluster cells based on their distances from each other. However, as these methods do not use reference datasets, they can only achieve a rough classification of cell-types, and it is difficult to improve the recognition accuracy further. To effectively solve this issue, we propose a novel supervised annotation method, scDeepInsight. The scDeepInsight method is capable of performing manifold assignments. It is competent in executing data integration through batch normalization, performing supervised training on the reference dataset, doing outlier detection and annotating cell-types on query datasets. Moreover, it can help identify active genes or marker genes related to cell-types. The training of the scDeepInsight model is performed in a unique way. Tabular scRNA-seq data are first converted to corresponding images through the DeepInsight methodology. DeepInsight can create a trainable image transformer to convert non-image RNA data to images by comprehensively comparing interrelationships among multiple genes. Subsequently, the converted images are fed into convolutional neural networks such as EfficientNet-b3. This enables automatic feature extraction to identify the cell-types of scRNA-seq samples. We benchmarked scDeepInsight with six other mainstream cell annotation methods. The average accuracy rate of scDeepInsight reached 87.5%, which is more than 7% higher compared with the state-of-the-art methods.

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