Iterative single-cell multi-omic integration using online learning

Nat Biotechnol. 2021 Aug;39(8):1000-1007. doi: 10.1038/s41587-021-00867-x. Epub 2021 Apr 19.


Integrating large single-cell gene expression, chromatin accessibility and DNA methylation datasets requires general and scalable computational approaches. Here we describe online integrative non-negative matrix factorization (iNMF), an algorithm for integrating large, diverse and continually arriving single-cell datasets. Our approach scales to arbitrarily large numbers of cells using fixed memory, iteratively incorporates new datasets as they are generated and allows many users to simultaneously analyze a single copy of a large dataset by streaming it over the internet. Iterative data addition can also be used to map new data to a reference dataset. Comparisons with previous methods indicate that the improvements in efficiency do not sacrifice dataset alignment and cluster preservation performance. We demonstrate the effectiveness of online iNMF by integrating more than 1 million cells on a standard laptop, integrating large single-cell RNA sequencing and spatial transcriptomic datasets, and iteratively constructing a single-cell multi-omic atlas of the mouse motor cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Machine Learning*
  • Mice
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*
  • Transcriptome / genetics*