Despite its popularity, characterization of subpopulations with transcript abundance is subject to a significant amount of noise. We propose to use effective and expressed nucleotide variations (eeSNVs) from scRNA-seq as alternative features for tumor subpopulation identification. We develop a linear modeling framework, SSrGE, to link eeSNVs associated with gene expression. In all the datasets tested, eeSNVs achieve better accuracies than gene expression for identifying subpopulations. Previously validated cancer-relevant genes are also highly ranked, confirming the significance of the method. Moreover, SSrGE is capable of analyzing coupled DNA-seq and RNA-seq data from the same single cells, demonstrating its value in integrating multi-omics single cell techniques. In summary, SNV features from scRNA-seq data have merits for both subpopulation identification and linkage of genotype-phenotype relationship.