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1.  Automatic Reconstruction of Neural Morphologies with Multi-Scale Tracking 
Neurons have complex axonal and dendritic morphologies that are the structural building blocks of neural circuits. The traditional method to capture these morphological structures using manual reconstructions is time-consuming and partly subjective, so it appears important to develop automatic or semi-automatic methods to reconstruct neurons. Here we introduce a fast algorithm for tracking neural morphologies in 3D with simultaneous detection of branching processes. The method is based on existing tracking procedures, adding the machine vision technique of multi-scaling. Starting from a seed point, our algorithm tracks axonal or dendritic arbors within a sphere of a variable radius, then moves the sphere center to the point on its surface with the shortest Dijkstra path, detects branching points on the surface of the sphere, scales it until branches are well separated and then continues tracking each branch. We evaluate the performance of our algorithm on preprocessed data stacks obtained by manual reconstructions of neural cells, corrupted with different levels of artificial noise, and unprocessed data sets, achieving 90% precision and 81% recall in branch detection. We also discuss limitations of our method, such as reconstructing highly overlapping neural processes, and suggest possible improvements. Multi-scaling techniques, well suited to detect branching structures, appear a promising strategy for automatic neuronal reconstructions.
PMCID: PMC3385559  PMID: 22754498
tracking; confocal; Dijkstra; multi-scaling
2.  An image score inference system for RNAi genome-wide screening based on fuzzy mixture regression modeling 
With recent advances in fluorescence microscopy imaging techniques and methods of gene knock down by RNA interference (RNAi), genome-scale high-content screening (HCS) has emerged as a powerful approach to systematically identify all parts of complex biological processes. However, a critical barrier preventing fulfillment of the success is the lack of efficient and robust methods for automating RNAi image analysis and quantitative evaluation of the gene knock down effects on huge volume of HCS data. Facing such opportunities and challenges, we have started investigation of automatic methods towards the development of a fully automatic RNAi-HCS system. Particularly important are reliable approaches to cellular phenotype classification and image-based gene function estimation.
We have developed a HCS analysis platform that consists of two main components: fluorescence image analysis and image scoring. For image analysis, we used a two-step enhanced watershed method to extract cellular boundaries from HCS images. Segmented cells were classified into several predefined phenotypes based on morphological and appearance features. Using statistical characteristics of the identified phenotypes as a quantitative description of the image, a score is generated that reflects gene function. Our scoring model integrates fuzzy gene class estimation and single regression models. The final functional score of an image was derived using the weighted combination of the inference from several support vector-based regression models. We validated our phenotype classification method and scoring system on our cellular phenotype and gene database with expert ground truth labeling.
We built a database of high-content, 3-channel, fluorescence microscopy images of Drosophila Kc167 cultured cells that were treated with RNAi to perturb gene function. The proposed informatics system for microscopy image analysis is tested on this database. Both of the two main components, automated phenotype classification and image scoring system, were evaluated. The robustness and efficiency of our system were validated in quantitatively predicting the biological relevance of genes.
PMCID: PMC2763194  PMID: 18547870
High-content screening; Image score inference

Results 1-2 (2)