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Tools and methods for analysis of single cell assay data in R

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MAST: Model-based Analysis of Single-cell Transcriptomics

MAST fits two-part, generalized linear models that are specially adapted for bimodal and/or zero-inflated single cell gene expression data.

Examples and vignettes

MAST supports:

  • Easy importing, subsetting and manipulation of expression matrices
  • Filtering of low-quality cells
  • Adaptive thresholding of background noise
  • Tests for univariate differential expression, with adjustment for covariates
  • Gene set enrichment analysis, corrected for covariates and gene-gene correlations
  • Exploration of gene-gene correlations and co-expression

Vignettes are available in the package via vignette('MAITAnalysis'), vignette('MAST-Intro') or vignette('MAST-interoperability').

New Features and announcements

  • MAST has been ported to use SingleCellExperiment under the hood, and is in Bioconductor.
  • We now make an effort to track assay contents (counts vs log counts). This should facilitate interaction with Scater and SCRAN.

Getting Help

For general questions, please submit a question to the bioconductor support site so that others can benefit from the discussion.

For bug reports (something seems broken): open a bug report here.

Installation Instructions

This version available here on github may only properly function if you are running Bioconductor Devel, which is not something you will want to run for existing analyses! Instead follow instructions below.

You may install or update MAST with:

install.packages("BiocManager") # Needed to install all Bioconductor packages


If you find MAST useful in your work, please consider citing the paper: MAST: a flexible statistical framework for assessing transcriptional changes and characterizing heterogeneity in single-cell RNA sequencing data G Finak, A McDavid, M Yajima, J Deng, V Gersuk, AK Shalek, CK Slichter et al Genome biology 16 (1), 278

The version that was used in the Genome Biology paper is accesible under the branch MASTClassic.

Converting old MASTClassic SingleCellAssay objects

If you have data analyzed using MASTClassic, you can convert objects from MASTClassic format to the new format based on SingleCellExperiment using convertMastClassicToSingleCellAssay().