Testing for phylogenetic signal in single-cell RNA-seq data

Moravec, Jiří, Lanfear, Rob, Spector, David, Diermeier, Sarah, Gavryushkin, Alex (2021) Testing for phylogenetic signal in single-cell RNA-seq data. (Submitted)

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DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.07.425804


Phylogenetic methods are emerging as a useful tool to understand cancer evolutionary dynamics, including tumor structure, heterogeneity, and progression. Most currently used approaches utilize either bulk whole genome sequencing (WGS) or single-cell DNA sequencing (scDNA-seq) and are based on calling copy number alterations and single nucleotide variants (SNVs). scRNA-seq is commonly applied to explore differential gene expression of cancer cells throughout tumor progression. The method exacerbates the single-cell sequencing problem of low yield per cell with uneven expression levels. This accounts for low and uneven sequencing coverage and makes SNV detection and phylogenetic analysis challenging. In this paper, we demonstrate for the first time that scRNA-seq data contains sufficient evolutionary signal and can also be utilized in phylogenetic analyses. We explore and compare results of such analyses based on both expression levels and SNVs called from scRNA-seq data. Both techniques are shown to be useful for reconstructing phylogenetic relationships between cells, reflecting the clonal composition of a tumor. Both standardized expression values and SNVs appear to be equally capable of reconstructing a similar pattern of phylogenetic relationship. This pattern is stable even when phylogenetic uncertainty is taken in account. Our results open up a new direction of somatic phylogenetics based on scRNA-seq data. Further research is required to refine and improve these approaches to capture the full picture of somatic evolutionary dynamics in cancer.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: diseases & disorders > cancer
Investigative techniques and equipment > assays > RNA-seq
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Spector lab
SWORD Depositor: CSHL Elements
Depositing User: CSHL Elements
Date: 2021
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2023 18:29
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2023 18:29
Related URLs:
URI: https://repository.cshl.edu/id/eprint/41103

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