Cell differentiation processes are achieved through a continuum of hierarchical intermediate cell states that might be captured by single-cell RNA seq. Existing computational approaches for the assessment of cell-state hierarchies from single-cell data can be formalized under a general framework composed of (i) a metric to assess cell-to-cell similarities (with or without a dimensionality reduction step) and (ii) a graph-building algorithm (optionally making use of a cell clustering step). The Sincell R package implements a methodological toolbox allowing flexible workflows under such a framework. Furthermore, Sincell contributes new algorithms to provide cell-state hierarchies with statistical support while accounting for stochastic factors in single-cell RNA seq. Graphical representations and functional association tests are provided to interpret hierarchies. The functionalities of Sincell are illustrated in a real case study, which demonstrates its ability to discriminate noisy from stable cell-state hierarchies.
Availability and implementation: Sincell is an open-source R/Bioconductor package available at http://bioconductor.org/packages/sincell. A detailed manual and a vignette are provided with the package.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press.