Mapping single-cell sequencing profiles to comprehensive reference datasets provides a powerful alternative to unsupervised analysis. However, most reference datasets are constructed from single-cell RNA-sequencing data and cannot be used to annotate datasets that do not measure gene expression. Here we introduce ‘bridge integration’, a method to integrate single-cell datasets across modalities using a multiomic dataset as a molecular bridge. Each cell in the multiomic dataset constitutes an element in a ‘dictionary’, which is used to reconstruct unimodal datasets and transform them into a shared space. Our procedure accurately integrates transcriptomic data with independent single-cell measurements of chromatin accessibility, histone modifications, DNA methylation and protein levels.
Moreover, we demonstrate how combining dictionary learning and sketching techniques, called ‘atomic sketching integration’, improves computational scalability and enables unsupervised clustering of scRNA-seq data of 33 million human cells sourced from the CZI Census data. Our approach, implemented in version 5 of our Seurat toolkit (http://www.satijalab.org/seurat), broadens the utility of single-cell reference datasets and facilitates comparisons across diverse molecular modalities.