Single Cell Tracking in Phase-Contrast Microscopy

  • In this work, we developed an automatic algorithm to analyze cell migration in chemotaxis assays, based on phase-contrast time-lapse microscopy. While manual approaches are still widely used in recent publications, our algorithm is able to track hundreds of single cells per frame. The extracted paths are analysed with traditional geometrical approaches as well as diffusion-driven Markov state models (MSM). Based on these models, a detailed view on spatial and temporal effects is possible. Using our new approach on experimental data, we are able to distinguish between directed migration (e.g. towards a VEGF gradient) and random migration without favored direction. A calculation of the committor probabilities reveals that cells of the whole image area are more likely to migrate directly towards the VEGF than away from it during the first four hours. However, in absence of a chemoattractant, cells migrate more likely to their nearest image border. These conclusions are supported by the spatial mean directions. In a next step, the cell-cell interaction during migration and the migration of cell clusters will be analyzed. Furthermore, we want to observe phenotypical changes during migration based on fluorescence microscopy and machine learning. The algorithm is part of a collaborative platform which brings the experimental expertise of scientists from life sciences and the analytical knowledge of computer scientists together. This platform is built using web-based technologies with a responsive real-time user interface. All data, including raw and metadata as well as the accompanying results, will be stored in a secure and scalable compute cluster. The compute cluster provides sufficient space and computational power for modern image-based experiments and their analyses. Specific versions of data and results can be tagged to keep immutable records for archival.

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Author:Marc Osterland, Andreas Benn, Steffen Prohaska, Christof Schütte
Document Type:Poster
Parent Title (English):EMBL Symposium 2015 - Seeing is Believing - Imaging the Processes of Life
Year of first publication:2015

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