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Quality assessment of single-cell RNA sequencing data by coverage skewness analysis

By Imad Abugessaisa, Shuhei Noguchi, Melissa Cardon, Akira Hasegawa, Kazuhide Watanabe, Masataka Takahashi, Harukazu Suzuki, Shintaro Katayama, Juha Kere, Takeya Kasukawa

Posted 31 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.31.890269

Analysis and interpretation of single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) experiments are compromised by the presence of poor quality cells. For meaningful analyses, such poor quality cells should be excluded to avoid biases and large variation. However, no clear guidelines exist. We introduce SkewC, a novel quality-assessment method to identify poor quality single-cells in scRNA-seq experiments. The method is based on the assessment of gene coverage for each single cell and its skewness as a quality measure. To validate the method, we investigated the impact of poor quality cells on downstream analyses and compared biological differences between typical and poor quality cells. Moreover, we measured the ratio of intergenic expression, suggesting genomic contamination, and foreign organism contamination of single-cell samples. SkewC is tested in 37,993 single-cells generated by 15 scRNA-seq protocols. We envision SkewC as an indispensable QC method to be incorporated into scRNA-seq experiment to preclude the possibility of scRNA-seq data misinterpretation.

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