A statistical learning method for simultaneous copy number estimation and subclone clustering with single-cell sequencing data

Genome Res. 2024 Feb 7;34(1):85-93. doi: 10.1101/gr.278098.123.


The availability of single-cell sequencing (SCS) enables us to assess intra-tumor heterogeneity and identify cellular subclones without the confounding effect of mixed cells. Copy number aberrations (CNAs) have been commonly used to identify subclones in SCS data using various clustering methods, as cells comprising a subpopulation are found to share a genetic profile. However, currently available methods may generate spurious results (e.g., falsely identified variants) in the procedure of CNA detection, thereby diminishing the accuracy of subclone identification within a large, complex cell population. In this study, we developed a subclone clustering method based on a fused lasso model, referred to as FLCNA, which can simultaneously detect CNAs in single-cell DNA sequencing (scDNA-seq) data. Spike-in simulations were conducted to evaluate the clustering and CNA detection performance of FLCNA, benchmarking it against existing copy number estimation methods (SCOPE, HMMcopy) in combination with commonly used clustering methods. Application of FLCNA to a scDNA-seq data set of breast cancer revealed different genomic variation patterns in neoadjuvant chemotherapy-treated samples and pretreated samples. We show that FLCNA is a practical and powerful method for subclone identification and CNA detection with scDNA-seq data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA Copy Number Variations*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods