Bulk brain tissue cell-type deconvolution with bias correction for single-nuclei RNA sequencing data using DeTREM

Author(s): O'Neill, NK; Stein, TD; Hu, J; Rehman, H; Campbell, JD; Yajima, M; Zhang, X; Farrer, LA;
Year: 2023;  
Journal: BMC bioinformatics;  
Volume: 24;  
Issue: 1;  

BACKGROUND: Quantifying cell-type abundance in bulk tissue RNA-sequencing enables researchers to better understand complex systems. Newer deconvolution methodologies, such as MuSiC, use cell-type signatures derived from single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) data to make these calculations. Single-nuclei RNA-sequencing (snRNA-seq) reference data can be used instead of scRNA-seq data for tissues such as human brain where single-cell data are difficult to obtain, but accuracy suffers due to sequencing differences between the technologies.
RESULTS: We propose a modification to MuSiC entitled ‘DeTREM’ which compensates for sequencing differences between the cell-type signature and bulk RNA-seq datasets in order to better predict cell-type fractions. We show DeTREM to be more accurate than MuSiC in simulated and real human brain bulk RNA-sequencing datasets with various cell-type abundance estimates. We also compare DeTREM to SCDC and CIBERSORTx, two recent deconvolution methods that use scRNA-seq cell-type signatures. We find that they perform well in simulated data but produce less accurate results than DeTREM when used to deconvolute human brain data.
CONCLUSION: DeTREM improves the deconvolution accuracy of MuSiC and outperforms other deconvolution methods when applied to snRNA-seq data. DeTREM enables accurate cell-type deconvolution in situations where scRNA-seq data are not available. This modification improves characterization cell-type specific effects in brain tissue and identification of cell-type abundance differences under various conditions.