Context-aware deconvolution of cell-cell communication with Tensor-cell2cell
Cell interactions determine phenotypes, and intercellular communication is shaped by cellular contexts such as disease state, organismal life stage, and tissue microenvironment. Single-cell technologies measure the molecules mediating cell-cell communication, and emerging computational tools can exploit these data to decipher intercellular communication. However, current methods either disregard cellular context or rely on simple pairwise comparisons between samples, thus limiting the ability
... decipher complex cell-cell communication across multiple time points, levels of disease severity, or spatial contexts. Here we present Tensor-cell2cell, an unsupervised method using tensor decomposition, which is the first strategy to decipher context-driven intercellular communication by simultaneously accounting for multiple stages, states, or locations of the cells. To do so, Tensor-cell2cell uncovers context-driven patterns of communication associated with different phenotypic states and determined by unique combinations of cell types and ligand-receptor pairs. We show Tensor-cell2cell can identify multiple modules associated with distinct communication processes (e.g., participating cell-cell and ligand receptor pairs) linked to COVID-19 severities. Thus, we introduce an effective and easy-to-use strategy for understanding complex communication patterns across diverse conditions.