Automated characterization of cell shape changes during amoeboid motility by skeletonization

Yuan Xiong, Cathryn Kabacoff, Jonathan Franca-Koh, Peter N Devreotes, Douglas Robinson, Pablo A Iglesias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The ability of a cell to change shape is crucial for the proper function of many cellular processes, including cell migration. One type of cell migration, referred to as amoeboid motility, involves alternating cycles of morphological expansion and retraction. Traditionally, this process has been characterized by a number of parameters providing global information about shape changes, which are insufficient to distinguish phenotypes based on local pseudopodial activities that typify amoeboid motility.Results: We developed a method that automatically detects and characterizes pseudopodial behavior of cells. The method uses skeletonization, a technique from morphological image processing to reduce a shape into a series of connected lines. It involves a series of automatic algorithms including image segmentation, boundary smoothing, skeletonization and branch pruning, and takes into account the cell shape changes between successive frames to detect protrusion and retraction activities. In addition, the activities are clustered into different groups, each representing the protruding and retracting history of an individual pseudopod.Conclusions: We illustrate the algorithms on movies of chemotaxing Dictyostelium cells and show that our method makes it possible to capture the spatial and temporal dynamics as well as the stochastic features of the pseudopodial behavior. Thus, the method provides a powerful tool for investigating amoeboid motility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalBMC Systems Biology
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 24 2010

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Skeletonization
Motility
Cell Shape
Cell Migration
Retraction
Cell
Image segmentation
Cell Movement
Image processing
Cells
Pseudopodia
Dictyostelium
Series
Motion Pictures
Pruning
Phenotype
Image Segmentation
Smoothing
Image Processing
Branch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computer Science Applications

Cite this

Automated characterization of cell shape changes during amoeboid motility by skeletonization. / Xiong, Yuan; Kabacoff, Cathryn; Franca-Koh, Jonathan; Devreotes, Peter N; Robinson, Douglas; Iglesias, Pablo A.

In: BMC Systems Biology, Vol. 4, 33, 24.03.2010.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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