- A.H.C. Vlot
- S. Maghsudi
- U. Ohler
- Nucleic Acids Research
- Nucleic Acids Res 50 (18): e107
Identification of cell identity markers is an essential step in single-cell omics data analysis. Current marker identification strategies typically rely on cluster assignments of cells. However, cluster assignment, particularly for developmental data, is nontrivial, potentially arbitrary, and commonly relies on prior knowledge. In response, we present SEMITONES, a principled method for cluster-free marker identification. We showcase and evaluate its application for marker gene and regulatory region identification from single-cell data of the human haematopoietic system. Additionally, we illustrate its application to spatial transcriptomics data and show how SEMITONES can be used for the annotation of cells given known marker genes. Using several simulated and curated data sets, we demonstrate that SEMITONES qualitatively and quantitatively outperforms existing methods for the retrieval of cell identity markers from single-cell omics data.