Handling high correlations in the feature gene selection using Single-Cell RNA sequencing data

by   Li Xing, et al.

Motivation: Selecting feature genes and predicting cells' phenotype are typical tasks in the analysis of scRNA-seq data. Many algorithms were developed for these tasks, but high correlations among genes create challenges specifically in scRNA-seq analysis, which are not well addressed. Highly correlated genes lead to unreliable prediction models due to technical problems, such as multi-collinearity. Most importantly, when a causal gene (whose variants have a true biological effect on the phenotype) is highly correlated with other genes, most algorithms select one of them in a data-driven manner. The correlation structure among genes could change substantially. Hence, it is critical to build a prediction model based on causal genes. Results: To address the issues discussed above, we propose a grouping algorithm that can be integrated into prediction models. Using real benchmark scRNA-seq data and simulated cell phenotypes, we show our novel method significantly outperforms standard models in both prediction and feature selection. Our algorithm reports the whole group of correlated genes, allowing researchers to either use their common pattern as a more robust predictor or conduct follow-up studies to identify the causal genes in the group. Availability: An R package is being developed and will be available on the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) when the paper is published.


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