Clustering is a critical step in single cell-based studies. Most existing methods support unsupervised clustering without the a priori exploitation of any domain knowledge. When confronted by the high dimensionality and pervasive dropout events of scRNA-Seq data, purely unsupervised clustering methods may not produce biologically interpretable clusters, which complicates cell type assignment. In such cases, the only recourse is for the user to manually and repeatedly tweak clustering parameters until acceptable clusters are found. Consequently, the path to obtaining biologically meaningful clusters can be ad hoc and laborious.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have developed a principled clustering method named scDCC, that integrates domain knowledge into the clustering step. Experiments on various scRNA-seq datasets from thousands to tens of thousands of cells show that scDCC can significantly improve clustering performance, facilitating the interpretability of clusters and downstream analyses, such as cell type assignment.
Network architecture of scDCC
The autoencoder is a fully connected neural network. The number below each layer denotes the size of that layer.