Inference and effects of barcode multiplets in droplet-based single-cell assays

Caleb A. Lareau, Sai Ma, Fabiana M. Duarte, Jason D. Buenrostro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A widespread assumption for single-cell analyses specifies that one cell’s nucleic acids are predominantly captured by one oligonucleotide barcode. Here, we show that ~13–21% of cell barcodes from the 10x Chromium scATAC-seq assay may have been derived from a droplet with more than one oligonucleotide sequence, which we call “barcode multiplets”. We demonstrate that barcode multiplets can be derived from at least two different sources. First, we confirm that approximately 4% of droplets from the 10x platform may contain multiple beads. Additionally, we find that approximately 5% of beads may contain detectable levels of multiple oligonucleotide barcodes. We show that this artifact can confound single-cell analyses, including the interpretation of clonal diversity and proliferation of intra-tumor lymphocytes. Overall, our work provides a conceptual and computational framework to identify and assess the impacts of barcode multiplets in single-cell data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number866
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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