Efficient and precise single-cell reference atlas mapping with Symphony. In review, 2021


Recent advances in single-cell technologies and integration algorithms make it possible to construct comprehensive reference atlases encompassing many donors, studies, disease states, and sequencing platforms. Much like mapping sequencing reads to a reference genome, it is essential to be able to map query cells onto complex, multimillion-cell reference atlases to rapidly identify relevant cell states and phenotypes. We present Symphony, an algorithm for building integrated reference atlases of millions of cells in a convenient, portable format that enables efficient query mapping within seconds. Symphony localizes query cells within a stable low-dimensional reference embedding, facilitating reproducible downstream transfer of reference-defined annotations to the query. We demonstrate the power of Symphony by (1) mapping a multi-donor, multi-species query to predict pancreatic cell types, (2) localizing query cells along a developmental trajectory of human fetal liver hematopoiesis, and (3) inferring surface protein expression with a multimodal CITE-seq atlas of memory T cells.

In review