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1.  ATF3 protects against atherosclerosis by suppressing 25-hydroxycholesterol–induced lipid body formation 
The transcription factor ATF3 inhibits lipid body formation in macrophages during atherosclerosis in part by dampening the expression of cholesterol 25-hydroxylase.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the accumulation of lipid-loaded macrophages in the arterial wall. We demonstrate that macrophage lipid body formation can be induced by modified lipoproteins or by inflammatory Toll-like receptor agonists. We used an unbiased approach to study the overlap in these pathways to identify regulators that control foam cell formation and atherogenesis. An analysis method integrating epigenomic and transcriptomic datasets with a transcription factor (TF) binding site prediction algorithm suggested that the TF ATF3 may regulate macrophage foam cell formation. Indeed, we found that deletion of this TF results in increased lipid body accumulation, and that ATF3 directly regulates transcription of the gene encoding cholesterol 25-hydroxylase. We further showed that production of 25-hydroxycholesterol (25-HC) promotes macrophage foam cell formation. Finally, deletion of ATF3 in Apoe−/− mice led to in vivo increases in foam cell formation, aortic 25-HC levels, and disease progression. These results define a previously unknown role for ATF3 in controlling macrophage lipid metabolism and demonstrate that ATF3 is a key intersection point for lipid metabolic and inflammatory pathways in these cells.
PMCID: PMC3328364  PMID: 22473958
2.  Image-based feedback control for real-time sorting of microspheres in a microfluidic device 
Lab on a chip  2010;10(18):2402-2410.
We describe a control system to automatically distribute antibody-functionalized beads to addressable assay chambers within a PDMS microfluidic device. The system used real-time image acquisition and processing to manage the valve states required to sort beads with unit precision. The image processing component of the control system correctly counted the number of beads in 99.81% of images (2 689 of 2 694), with only four instances of an incorrect number of beads being sorted to an assay chamber, and one instance of inaccurately counted beads being improperly delivered to waste. Post-experimental refinement of the counting script resulted in one counting error in 2,694 images of beads (99.96% accuracy). We analyzed a range of operational variables (flow pressure, bead concentration, etc.) using a statistical model to characterize those that yielded optimal sorting speed and efficiency. The integrated device was able to capture, count, and deliver beads at a rate of approximately four per minute so that bead arrays could be assembled in 32 individually addressable assay chambers for eight analytical measurements in duplicate (512 beads total) within 2.5 hours. This functionality demonstrates the successful integration of a robust control system with precision bead handling that is the enabling technology for future development of a highly multiplexed bead-based analytical device.
PMCID: PMC2928395  PMID: 20593069
3.  Evaluation of methods for detection of fluorescence labeled subcellular objects in microscope images 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:248.
Several algorithms have been proposed for detecting fluorescently labeled subcellular objects in microscope images. Many of these algorithms have been designed for specific tasks and validated with limited image data. But despite the potential of using extensive comparisons between algorithms to provide useful information to guide method selection and thus more accurate results, relatively few studies have been performed.
To better understand algorithm performance under different conditions, we have carried out a comparative study including eleven spot detection or segmentation algorithms from various application fields. We used microscope images from well plate experiments with a human osteosarcoma cell line and frames from image stacks of yeast cells in different focal planes. These experimentally derived images permit a comparison of method performance in realistic situations where the number of objects varies within image set. We also used simulated microscope images in order to compare the methods and validate them against a ground truth reference result. Our study finds major differences in the performance of different algorithms, in terms of both object counts and segmentation accuracies.
These results suggest that the selection of detection algorithms for image based screens should be done carefully and take into account different conditions, such as the possibility of acquiring empty images or images with very few spots. Our inclusion of methods that have not been used before in this context broadens the set of available detection methods and compares them against the current state-of-the-art methods for subcellular particle detection.
PMCID: PMC3098061  PMID: 20465797
4.  Bright Field Microscopy as an Alternative to Whole Cell Fluorescence in Automated Analysis of Macrophage Images 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7497.
Fluorescence microscopy is the standard tool for detection and analysis of cellular phenomena. This technique, however, has a number of drawbacks such as the limited number of available fluorescent channels in microscopes, overlapping excitation and emission spectra of the stains, and phototoxicity.
We here present and validate a method to automatically detect cell population outlines directly from bright field images. By imaging samples with several focus levels forming a bright field -stack, and by measuring the intensity variations of this stack over the -dimension, we construct a new two dimensional projection image of increased contrast. With additional information for locations of each cell, such as stained nuclei, this bright field projection image can be used instead of whole cell fluorescence to locate borders of individual cells, separating touching cells, and enabling single cell analysis. Using the popular CellProfiler freeware cell image analysis software mainly targeted for fluorescence microscopy, we validate our method by automatically segmenting low contrast and rather complex shaped murine macrophage cells.
The proposed approach frees up a fluorescence channel, which can be used for subcellular studies. It also facilitates cell shape measurement in experiments where whole cell fluorescent staining is either not available, or is dependent on a particular experimental condition. We show that whole cell area detection results using our projected bright field images match closely to the standard approach where cell areas are localized using fluorescence, and conclude that the high contrast bright field projection image can directly replace one fluorescent channel in whole cell quantification. Matlab code for calculating the projections can be downloaded from the supplementary site:
PMCID: PMC2760782  PMID: 19847301

Results 1-4 (4)