Production of a Quality Control Pipeline for Single Nuclei RNA-seq and Its Application in the Analysis of Cell Type Diversity of Post-Mortem Human Brain Neocortex
Next generation sequencing of the RNA content of single cells or single nuclei (sc/nRNA-seq) has become a powerful approach to understand the cellular complexity and diversity of multicellular organisms and environmental ecosystems. However, the fact that the procedure begins with a relatively small amount of starting material, thereby pushing the limits of the laboratory procedures required, dictates that careful approaches for sample quality control (QC) are essential to reduce the impact of technical noise and sample bias in downstream analysis applications.
We have developed a framework for sample level quality control that is based on the collection of a series of quantitative laboratory and data metrics that are used as features for the construction of QC classification models using random forest machine learning approaches. We’ve applied this initial framework to a dataset comprised of 2272 single nuclei RNA-seq results and determined that ~79% of samples were of high quality. Removal of the poor-quality samples from downstream analysis was found to improve the cell type clustering results. In addition, this approach identified quantitative features related to the proportion of unique or duplicate reads and the proportion of reads remaining after quality trimming as useful features for pass/fail classification.
The construction and use of classification models for the identification of poor quality samples provides for an objective and scalable approach to sc/nRNA-seq quality control.
This work is funded by the Allen Institute for Brain Science.