On the discovery of subpopulation-specific state transitions from multi-sample multi-condition single-cell RNA sequencing data
Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has quickly become an empowering technology to profile the transcriptomes of individual cells on a large scale. Many early analyses of differential expression have aimed at identifying differences between subpopulations, and thus are focused on finding subpopulation markers either in a single sample or across multiple samples. More generally, such methods can compare expression levels in multiple sets of cells, thus leading to cross-condition analyses. However, given the emergence of replicated multi-condition scRNA-seq datasets, an area of increasing focus is making sample-level inferences, termed here as differential state analysis. For example, one could investigate the condition-specific responses of cell subpopulations measured from patients from each condition; however, it is not clear which statistical framework best handles this situation. In this work, we surveyed the methods available to perform cross-condition differential state analyses, including cell-level mixed models and methods based on aggregated “pseudobulk” data. We developed a flexible simulation platform that mimics both single and multi-sample scRNA-seq data and provide robust tools for multi-condition analysis within the muscat R package. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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