June 20, 2023
Genome Biology

A benchmark of computational pipelines for single-cell histone modification data


Single-cell histone post translational modification (scHPTM) assays such as scCUT&Tag or scChIP-seq allow single-cell mapping of diverse epigenomic landscapes within complex tissues and are likely to unlock our understanding of various mechanisms involved in development or diseases. Running scHTPM experiments and analyzing the data produced remains challenging since few consensus guidelines currently exist regarding good practices for experimental design and data analysis pipelines.


We perform a computational benchmark to assess the impact of experimental parameters and data analysis pipelines on the ability of the cell representation to recapitulate known biological similarities. We run more than ten thousand experiments to systematically study the impact of coverage and number of cells, of the count matrix construction method, of feature selection and normalization, and of the dimension reduction algorithm used. This allows us to identify key experimental parameters and computational choices to obtain a good representation of single-cell HPTM data. We show in particular that the count matrix construction step has a strong influence on the quality of the representation and that using fixed-size bin counts outperforms annotation-based binning. Dimension reduction methods based on latent semantic indexing outperform others, and feature selection is detrimental, while keeping only high-quality cells has little influence on the final representation as long as enough cells are analyzed.


This benchmark provides a comprehensive study on how experimental parameters and computational choices affect the representation of single-cell HPTM data. We propose a series of recommendations regarding matrix construction, feature and cell selection, and dimensionality reduction algorithms.

Félix Raimundo
Pacôme Prompsy
Jean Philippe Vert
Céline Vallot