Single-nucleus RNA-seq (snRNA-seq) enables the interrogation of cellular states in complex tissues that are challenging to dissociate or are frozen, and opens the way to human genetics studies, clinical trials, and precise cell atlases of large organs. However, such applications are currently limited by batch effects, processing, and costs. Here, we present an approach for multiplexing snRNA-seq, using sample-barcoded antibodies to uniquely label nuclei from distinct samples. Comparing human brain cortex samples profiled with or without hashing antibodies, we demonstrate that nucleus hashing does not significantly alter recovered profiles. We develop DemuxEM, a computational tool that detects inter-sample multiplets and assigns singlets to their sample of origin, and validate its accuracy using sex-specific gene expression, species-mixing and natural genetic variation. Our approach will facilitate tissue atlases of isogenic model organisms or from multiple biopsies or longitudinal samples of one donor, and large-scale perturbation screens.
A number of sequencing-based transcriptase drop-off assays have recently been developed to probe post-transcriptional dynamics of RNA-protein interaction, RNA structure, and RNA modification. Although these assays survey a diverse set of epitranscriptomic marks, we use the term toeprinting assays since they share methodological similarities. Their interpretation is predicated on addressing a similar computational challenge: how to learn isoform-specific chemical modification profiles in the face of complex read multi-mapping. We introduce PROBer, a statistical model and associated software, that addresses this challenge for the analysis of toeprinting assays. PROBer takes sequencing data as input and outputs estimated transcript abundances and isoform-specific modification profiles. Results on both simulated and biological data demonstrate that PROBer significantly outperforms individual methods tailored for specific toeprinting assays. Since the space of toeprinting assays is ever expanding and these assays are likely to be performed and analyzed together, we believe PROBer’s unified data analysis solution will be valuable to the RNA community.
RNA-Seq is revolutionizing the way transcript abundances are measured. A key challenge in transcript quantification from RNA-Seq data is the handling of reads that map to multiple genes or isoforms. This issue is particularly important for quantification with de novo transcriptome assemblies in the absence of sequenced genomes, as it is difficult to determine which transcripts are isoforms of the same gene. A second significant issue is the design of RNA-Seq experiments, in terms of the number of reads, read length, and whether reads come from one or both ends of cDNA fragments.
We present RSEM, an user-friendly software package for quantifying gene and isoform abundances from single-end or paired-end RNA-Seq data. RSEM outputs abundance estimates, 95% credibility intervals, and visualization files and can also simulate RNA-Seq data. In contrast to other existing tools, the software does not require a reference genome. Thus, in combination with a de novo transcriptome assembler, RSEM enables accurate transcript quantification for species without sequenced genomes. On simulated and real data sets, RSEM has superior or comparable performance to quantification methods that rely on a reference genome. Taking advantage of RSEM’s ability to effectively use ambiguously-mapping reads, we show that accurate gene-level abundance estimates are best obtained with large numbers of short single-end reads. On the other hand, estimates of the relative frequencies of isoforms within single genes may be improved through the use of paired-end reads, depending on the number of possible splice forms for each gene.
RSEM is an accurate and user-friendly software tool for quantifying transcript abundances from RNA-Seq data. As it does not rely on the existence of a reference genome, it is particularly useful for quantification with de novo transcriptome assemblies. In addition, RSEM has enabled valuable guidance for cost-efficient design of quantification experiments with RNA-Seq, which is currently relatively expensive.