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WASP: a versatile, web-accessible single cell RNA-Seq processing platform

Single cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) enables analysis of cellular transcriptomes in an unprecedented resolution, allowing e.g., the identification of previously undiscovered rare cell populations with corresponding marker genes, detection of heterogeneity between cells of the same type or to follow transcriptional programs of cells during differentiation. Current high-throughput sequencing techniques yield enormous amounts of data that need to be analyzed. Hence, there is need for bioinformatic analysis solutions adapted to the specific challenges deriving from scRNA-seq data. Our software WASP is designed for the management, analysis and interpretation of scRNA-seq high-throughput data. The software addresses all aspects from initial quality control, demultiplexing and reference alignment to downstream statistical evaluation. Furthermore, it provides an automated workflow suitable for both non-bioinformaticians as well as experts. The software is available via a web-based interface and supports deployment to local as well as cloud-based compute infrastructures.

Background

The technology of single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has gained massively in popularity as it allows unprecedented insights into cellular heterogeneity as well as identification and characterization of (sub-)cellular populations. Furthermore, scRNA-seq is almost ubiquitously applicable in medical and biological research. However, these new opportunities are accompanied by additional challenges for researchers regarding data analysis, as advanced technical expertise is required in using bioinformatic software.

 

Results

Here we present WASP, a software for the processing of Drop-Seq-based scRNA-Seq data. Our software facilitates the initial processing of raw reads generated with the ddSEQ or 10x protocol and generates demultiplexed gene expression matrices including quality metrics. The processing pipeline is realized as a Snakemake workflow, while an R Shiny application is provided for interactive result visualization. WASP supports comprehensive analysis of gene expression matrices, including detection of differentially expressed genes, clustering of cellular populations and interactive graphical visualization of the results. The R Shiny application can be used with gene expression matrices generated by the WASP pipeline, as well as with externally provided data from other sources.
WASP is available at: http://wasp.computational.bio

 

Citation

Hoek A., Maibach K., Özmen E., Vazquez-Armendariz A. I., Mengel J.P., Hain T., Herold S., Goesmann, A.

WASP: a versatile, web-accessible single cell RNA-Seq processing platform

BMC Genomics 22, 195 (2021) DOI: 10.1186/s12864-021-07469-6