The exclusion of charged fluorescent dyes by intact cells has become a well-established assay for determining viability of cells. In search for a non-invasive fluorescent probe capable of long-term monitoring of cell death in real-time, we evaluated a new anthracycline derivative DRAQ7. The novel probe does not penetrate the plasma membrane of living cells but when the membrane integrity is compromised, it enters and binds readily to nuclear DNA to report cell death. It proved to be non-toxic to a panel of cancer cell lines grown continuously for up to 72 hours and did not induce any detectable DNA damage signaling when analyzed using laser scanning microscopy and flow cytometry. DRAQ7 provided a sensitive, real-time readout of cell death induced by a variety of stressors such as hypoxia, starvation and drug-induced cytotoxicity. The overall responses to anti-cancer agents and resulting pharmacological dose-response profiles were not affected by the growth of tumor cells in the presence DRAQ7. Moreover, we for the first time introduced a near real-time microflow cytometric assay based on combination of DRAQ7 and mitochondrial inner membrane potential (ΔΨm) sensitive probe TMRM. We provide evidence that this low-dosage, real-time labeling procedure provides multi-parameter and kinetic fingerprint of anti-cancer drug action.
DRAQ7; real-time assays; cell viability; drug; cytotoxicity; DNA damage response; cell cycle; microfluidic; cytometry
There are increased levels of circulating microparticles in several disease states. Flow cytometry is a common method to examine microparticles, but their small size necessitates the use of markers to specifically distinguish microparticles from artifact. Annexin V, which binds phosphatidylserine, is a commonly used marker for microparticle detection. Annexin V requires millimolar calcium ion for optimum binding. Ca++ can precipitate with phosphate in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS).
Calcium-phosphate microprecipitates were formed by titrating Ca++ into PBS and examined using flow cytometry. Calcium-phosphate microprecipitates were compared with microparticles derived from aged donor blood units.
Microprecipitates were approximately 0.7–0.9 μm in diameter compared to standard beads of known size. The microprecipitates disappeared with the addition of Ca++ chelator. When we added fluorescently-labeled antibodies to microprecipitates, the median fluorescent signal increased with increasing Ca++ concentration regardless of specificity of the antibody. When repeated with a biological sample, there was an apparent increase in the fluorescent signal that returned to baseline after Ca++ chelation.
The flow cytometry signal of calcium-phosphate microprecipitates overlaps with the microparticle signal. Since Ca++ is essential for annexin V binding, it is essential to avoid artifacts from calcium-phosphate microprecipitates when using any buffer or biological fluid containing phosphate. This also highlights the potential utility of flow cytometry for the analysis of crystals in biological fluids.
Microparticles; Calcium; Phosphate; Annexin V; Microvesicles
Monitoring the trafficking of multiple proteins simultaneously in live cells is of great interest because many receptor proteins are found to function together with others in the same cell. However, existing fluorescent labeling techniques have restricted the mechanistic study of functional receptor pairs. We have expanded a hybrid system combining fluorogen activating protein (FAP) technology and high-throughput flow cytometry to a new type of biosensor that is robust, sensitive, and versatile. This provides the opportunity to study multiple trafficking proteins in the same cell. Human beta2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR) fused with FAP AM2.2 and murine C-C chemokines receptor type 5 fused with FAP MG13 was chosen for our model system. The function of the receptor and the binding between MG13 and fluorogen MG-2p have been characterized by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy assays. The binding of fluorogen and the FAP pair is highly specific, while both FAP-tagged fusion proteins function similarly to their wild type counterparts. The system has successfully served as a counter screen assay to eliminate false positive compounds identified in a screen against NIH Molecular Libraries Small Molecule Repository targeting regulators of the human β2AR.
High-throughput; Flow Cytometry; Fluorogen Activating Protein; Live Cell; Protein Trafficking
Barrier function and shape changes of endothelial cells (EC) are regulated by phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of key signaling and contractile elements. EC contraction results in intercellular gap formation and loss of the selective vascular barrier to circulating macromolecules. EC dysfunction elicited by thrombin was found to correlate with actin microfilament redistribution. It is known that calcineurin (Cn) is involved in thrombin-induced EC dysfunction because inhibition of Cn potentiates PKC activity and the phosphorylation state of EC myosin light chain is also affected by Cn activity.
Immunofluorescent detection of Cn catalytic subunit (CnA) isoforms coexpressed with GFP was visualized on paraformaldehyde (PFA) fixed bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells (BPAEC). Actin microfilaments were stained with Texas Red-phalloidin. Cytotoxic effects of transfections or treatments and the efficiency of transfections were assessed by flow cytometry.
Treatment of BPAEC with Cn inhibitors (cyclosporin A and FK506) hindered recovery of the cells from thrombin-induced EC dysfunction. Inhibition of Cn in the absence of thrombin had no effect on cytoskeletal actin filaments. We detected attenuated thrombin-induced stress fiber formation and changes in cell shape only when cells were transfected with constitutively active CnA and not with various CnA isoforms. Flow cytometry (FCM) analysis has proved that cytotoxic effect of treatments is negligible.
We observed that Cn is involved in the recovery from thrombin-induced EC dysfunction. Inhibition of Cn caused prolonged contractile effect, while overexpression of constitutively active CnA resulted in reduced thrombin-induced stress fiber formation.
endothelium; barrier function; isoforms of catalytic subunit of calcineurin; stress fibers; immunofluorescence
The hematopoietic and vascular lineages are intimately entwined as they arise together from bipotent hemangioblasts and hemogenic endothelial precursors during human embryonic development. In vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells toward these lineages provides opportunities for elucidating the mechanisms of hematopoietic genesis. We previously demonstrated the stepwise in vitro differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to definitive erythromyelopoiesis through clonogenic bipotent primitive hemangioblasts. This system recapitulates an orderly hematopoiesis similar to human yolk sac development via the generation of mesodermal-hematoendothelial progenitor cells that give rise to endothelium followed by embryonic primitive and definitive hematopoietic cells. Here, we report that under modified feeder-free endothelial culture conditions, multipotent CD34+CD45+ hematopoietic progenitors arise in mass quantities from differentiated hESC and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC). These hematopoietic progenitors arose directly from adherent endothelial/stromal cell layers in a manner resembling in vivo hematopoiesis from embryonic hemogenic endothelium. Although fibroblast-derived hiPSC lines were previously found inefficient in hemato-endothelial differentiation capacity, our culture system also supported robust hiPSC hemato-vascular differentiation at levels comparable to hESC. We present comparative differentiation results for simultaneously generating hematopoietic and vascular progenitors from both hESC and fibroblast-hiPSC. This defined, optimized, and low-density differentiation system will be ideal for direct single-cell time course studies of the earliest hematopoietic events using time-lapse videography, or bulk kinetics using flow cytometry analyses on emerging hematopoietic progenitors.
human embryonic stem cells (hESC); induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC); hematopoietic stem-progenitor cells; vascular progenitor cells; hemogenic endothelium; hemovascular differentiation; flow cytometry
The ongoing DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species generated during oxidative metabolism is considered a key factor contributing to cell aging as well as preconditioning cells to neoplastic transformation. We postulated before that a significant fraction of constitutive histone H2AX phosphorylation (CHP) and constitutive activation of ATM (CAA) seen in untreated normal and tumor cells occurs in response to such DNA damage. In the present study, we provide further evidence in support of this postulate. The level of ATM activation and H2AX phosphorylation, detected immunocytochemically, has been monitored in WI-38, A549, and TK6 cells treated with H2O2 as well as growing under conditions known or suspected to affect the level of endogenous oxidants. Thirty- to 60-min exposure of cells to 100 or 200 μM H2O2 led to an increase in the level of H2AX phosphorylation and ATM activation, particularly pronounced (nearly fivefold) in S-phase cells. Cell growth for 24–48 h under hypoxic conditions (3% O2) distinctly lowered the level of CHP and CAA while it had minor effect on cell cycle progression. Treatment (4 h) with 0.1 or 0.3 mM 3-bromopyruvate, an inhibitor of glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, reduced the level of CHP (up to fourfold) and also decreased the level of CAA. Growth of WI-38 cells in 2% serum concentration for 48 h led to a 25 and 30% reduction in CHP and CHA, respectively, compared with cells growing in 10% serum. The antioxidant vitamin C (2 mM) reduced CHP and CAA by 20–30% after 24 h of treatment, while the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (5 μM) had a minor effect on CHP and CAA, though it decreased the level of H2O2-induced H2AX phosphorylation and ATM activation. In contrast, dichloroacetate known to shift metabolism from anaerobic to oxidative glycolysis through its effect on pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase enhanced the level of CHP and CAA. Our present data and earlier observations strongly support the postulate that a large fraction of CHP and CAA occurs in response to DNA damage caused by metabolically generated oxidants. Cytometric analysis of CHP and CAA provides the means to measure the effectiveness of exogenous factors, which either through lowering aerobic metabolism or neutralizing radicals may protect DNA from such damage.
H2AX phosphorylation; ATM activation; reactive oxygen species; hypoxia; hydrogen peroxide; 3-bromopyruvate; dichloroacetate; celecoxib; aging; caloric restriction; mitochondria
This review covers the topic of cytometric assessment of activation of Ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein kinase and histone H2AX phosphorylation on Ser139 in response to DNA damage, particularly the damage that involves formation of DNA double-strand breaks. Briefly described are molecular mechanisms associated with activation of ATM and the downstream events that lead to recruitment of DNA repair machinery, engagement of cell cycle checkpoints, and activation of apoptotic pathway. Examples of multiparameter analysis of ATM activation and H2AX phosphorylation vis-a-vis cell cycle phase position and induction of apoptosis that employ flow- and laser scanning-cytometry are provided. They include cells treated with a variety of exogenous genotoxic agents, such as ionizing and UV radiation, DNA topoisomerase I (topotecan) and II (mitoxantrone, etoposide) inhibitors, nitric oxide-releasing aspirin, DNA replication inhibitors (aphidicolin, hydroxyurea, thymidine), and complex environmental carcinogens such as present in tobacco smoke. Also presented is an approach to identify DNA replicating (BrdU incorporating) cells based on selective photolysis of DNA that triggers H2AX phosphorylation. Listed are strategies to distinguish ATM activation and H2AX phosphorylation induced by primary DNA damage by genotoxic agents from those effects triggered by DNA fragmentation that takes place during apoptosis. While we review most published data, recent new findings also are included. Examples of multivariate analysis of ATM activation and H2AX phosphorylation presented in this review illustrate the advantages of cytometric flow- and image-analysis of these events in terms of offering a sensitive and valuable tool in studies of factors that induce DNA damage and/or affect DNA repair and allow one to explore the linkage between DNA damage, cell cycle checkpoints and initiation of apoptosis.
ionizing radiation; DNA topoisomerase inhibitors; DNA double-strand breaks; carcinogens; tobacco smoke; replication stress; genotoxins; DNA photolysis
Analysis of high-dimensional flow cytometry datasets can reveal novel cell populations with poorly understood biology. Following discovery, characterization of these populations in terms of the critical markers involved is an important step, as this can help to both better understand the biology of these populations and aid in designing simpler marker panels to identify them on simpler instruments and with fewer reagents (i.e., in resource poor or highly regulated clinical settings). However, current tools to design panels based on the biological characteristics of the target cell populations work exclusively based on technical parameters (e.g., instrument configurations, spectral overlap, and reagent availability). To address this shortcoming, we developed RchyOptimyx (cellular hieraRCHY OPTIMization), a computational tool that constructs cellular hierarchies by combining automated gating with dynamic programming and graph theory to provide the best gating strategies to identify a target population to a desired level of purity or correlation with a clinical outcome, using the simplest possible marker panels. RchyOptimyx can assess and graphically present the trade-offs between marker choice and population specificity in high-dimensional flow or mass cytometry datasets. We present three proof-of-concept use cases for RchyOptimyx that involve 1) designing a panel of surface markers for identification of rare populations that are primarily characterized using their intracellular signature; 2) simplifying the gating strategy for identification of a target cell population; 3) identification of a non-redundant marker set to identify a target cell population.
polychromatic flow cytometry; mass cytometry; exploratory data analysis; cellular hierarchy; graph theory; gating; marker panel; bioinformatics; statistics
In fluorescence-based flow cytometry, cellular viability is determined with membrane-impermeable fluorescent reagents that specifically enter and label plasma membrane-compromised non-viable cells. A recent technological advance in flow cytometry uses antibodies conjugated to elemental metal isotopes, rather than to fluorophores, to allow signal detection by atomic mass spectrometry. Unhampered by the limitations of overlapping emission fluorescence, mass cytometry increases the number of parameters that can be measured in single cells. However, mass cytometry is unable to take advantage of current fluorescent viability dyes. An alternative methodology was therefore developed here in which the platinum-containing chemotherapy drug cisplatin was used to label cells for mass cytometry determinations of live/dead ratios. In a one-minute incubation step, cisplatin preferentially labeled non-viable cells, from both adherent and suspension cultures, resulting in a platinum signal quantifiable by mass cytometry. This protocol was compatible with established sample processing steps for cytometry. Furthermore, the live/dead ratios were comparable between mass and fluorescence based cytometry. Importantly, although cisplatin is a known DNA-damaging agent, a one-minute “pulse” of cisplatin did not induce observable DNA damage or apoptotic responses even within 6 hours post-exposure. Cisplatin can therefore be used as a viability reagent for a wide range of mass cytometry protocols.
Mass cytometry; cisplatin; viability reagent
Neutrophils are an important cellular component of the innate immune system that provides immediate protection to the host from infection. Neutrophil infiltration into inflamed peripheral tissues during infection is beneficial for immunity through phagocytosis of microbes, the release of antimicrobial factors, and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Recent reports further suggest that spleen-infiltrating neutrophils play a role in the adaptive immune response by providing survival signals to B cells. However, neutrophils may have detrimental effects on immunity in inflammatory diseases where their recruitment to lymphoid tissues and activation occur abnormally. To determine the contribution of neutrophils that reside in secondary lymphoid tissues to adaptive immunity, direct evaluation of the functional properties of tissue-resident neutrophils is required. We have developed a modified magnetic bead isolation approach for purifying neutrophils from inflamed spleens of autoimmune-prone mice by negative selection. Using this approach, we yielded neutrophils with greater than 90% purity without compromising cell viability. Equally important, the isolation procedure had little effect on the activation of neutrophils and did not impair phagocytic function. Thus, isolation of spleen-resident neutrophils by this optimized approach could be useful for interrogating the functional role of murine neutrophils in normal and abnormal immune responses.
magnetic bead isolation; murine neutrophil; spleen; inflammation; autoimmunity; flow cytometry
Alterations of blood rheology (hemorheology) are important for the early diagnosis, prognosis, and prevention of many diseases, including myocardial infarction, stroke, sickle cell anemia, thromboembolism, trauma, inflammation, and malignancy. However, real-time in vivo monitoring of hemorheological status using multiple parameters over long periods of time has not been reported. Here we describe the capability of label-free photoacoustic (PA) and photothermal (PT) flow cytometry in detection and imaging modes for dynamic monitoring of rheological parameters in circulating blood. We show that this integrated platform can simultaneously measure the main rheological parameters and may improve their diagnostic value. Using phenomenological approaches, we analyze correlations of PT and PA signal characteristics in the dynamic modes with red blood cell (RBC) aggregation, deformability, shape (e.g., as in sickle cells), intracellular hemoglobin distribution, individual cell velocity, flux of RBCs, and likely shear rate. Proof of concept is demonstrated in ex vivo and in vivo tests, including high-speed PT imaging of RBC shape in pathological conditions and identification of sickle cells in a mouse model of human sickle cell disease. These studies revealed the potential of this new platform integrating PT, PA, and conventional optical techniques for translation to use in humans using safe, portable, laser-based medical devices for point-of-care screening of disease progression and therapy efficiency.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) remain the most well-characterized adult stem cell population both in terms of markers for purification and assays to assess functional potential. However, despite over 40 years of research, working with HSCs in the mouse remains challenging because of the relative abundance (or lack thereof) of these cells in the bone marrow. The frequency of HSCs in bone marrow is about 0.01% of total nucleated cells and approximately 5000 can be isolated from an individual mouse depending on the age, sex and strain of mice as well as purification scheme utilized. Adding to the challenge is the continual reporting of new markers for HSC purification, which makes it difficult for the uninitiated in the field to know which purification strategies yield the highest proportion of long-term, multi-lineage HSCs. Here, we will report will review different strategies for hematopoietic stem and progenitor purification identification. We will also discuss methods for rapid flow cytometric analysis of peripheral blood cell types, and novel strategies for working with rare cell populations such as HSCs in the analysis of cell cycle status by BrdU, Ki-67 and Pyronin Y staining. The purpose of this review is to provide insight into some of the recent experimental and technical advances in mouse hematopoietic stem cell biology.
Mass cytometry is a recently introduced technology that utilizes transition element isotope-tagged antibodies for protein detection on a single-cell basis. By circumventing the limitations of emission spectral overlap associated with fluorochromes utilized in traditional flow cytometry, mass cytometry currently allows measurement of up to 40 parameters per cell. Recently a comprehensive mass cytometry analysis was described for the hematopoietic differentiation program in human bone marrow from a healthy donor. The present study describes approaches to delineate cell cycle stages utilizing iododeoxyuridine (IdU) to mark cells in S phase, simultaneously with antibodies against cyclin B1, cyclin A, and phosphorylated histone H3 (S28) that characterize the other cell cycle phases. Protocols were developed in which an antibody against phosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (Rb) at serines 807 and 811 was used to separate cells in G0 and G1 phases of the cell cycle. This mass cytometry method yielded cell cycle distributions of both normal and cancer cell populations that were equivalent to those obtained by traditional fluorescence cytometry techniques. We applied this to map the cell cycle phases of cells spanning the hematopoietic hierarchy in healthy human bone marrow as a prelude to later studies with cancers and other disorders of this lineage.
Mass Cytometry; Cell Cycle; Flow Cytometry; Retinoblastoma; iododeoxyuridine; hematopoiesis
We have developed a high throughput platform to detect the presence of HIV-1 and SIV-specific ADCC-mediating antibody responses. The assay is based on the hydrolysis of a cell-permeable fluorogenic peptide substrate containing a sequence recognized by the serine protease, Granzyme B (GzB). GzB is delivered into target cells by cytotoxic effector cells as a result of antigen (Ag)-specific Ab-Fcγ receptor interactions. Within the target cells, effector cell-derived GzB hydrolyzes the substrate, generating a fluorescent signal that allows individual target cells that have received a lethal hit to be identified by flow cytometry. Results are reported as the percentage of target cells with GzB activity (%GzB). Freshly isolated or cryopreserved PBMC and/or NK cells can be used as effector cells. CEM.NKR cells expressing the CCR5 co-receptor are used as a target cells following (i) coating with recombinant envelope glycoprotein, (ii) infection with infectious molecular clones expressing the Env antigens of primary and lab adapted viruses, or (iii) chronic infection with a variant of HIV-1/IIIB, termed A1953. In addition, primary CD4+ T cells infected with HIV-1 in vitro can also be used as targets. The assay is highly reproducible with a coefficient of variation of less than 25%. Target and effector cell populations, in the absence of serum/plasma, were used to calculate background (8.6±2.3%). We determined that an initial dilution of 1:50 and 1:100 is required for testing of human and non-human primate samples, respectively. This assay allows for rapid quantification of HIV-1 or SIV-specific ADCC-mediating antibodies that develop in response to vaccination, or in the natural course of infection, thus providing researchers with a new methodology for investigating the role of ADCC-mediating antibodies as correlates of control or prevention of HIV-1 and SIV infection.
ADCC; HIV; SIV; NK; Fc gamma receptors; Granzyme B; high throughput
We provide an overview of the methods used to label circulating cells for fluorescence detection by in vivo flow cytometry. These methods are useful for cell tracking in small animals without the need to draw blood samples, and are particularly useful for the detection of circulating cancer cells and quantification of circulating immune cells.
In vivo flow cytometry; cell tracking; circulating tumor cells; circulating immune cells
The Flow Cytometry Standard (FCS) format was developed back in 1984. Since then, FCS became the standard file format supported by all flow cytometry software and hardware vendors. Over the years, updates were incorporated to adapt to technological advancements in both flow cytometry and computing technologies. However, flexibility in how data may be stored in FCS has led to implementation difficulties for instrument vendors and third party software developers. In this technical note, we are providing implementation guidance and examples related to FCS 3.1, the latest version of the standard. By publishing this text, we intend to prevent potential compatibility issues that could be faced when implementing the FCS spillover and preferred display keywords that have arisen during discussions among some implementers.
flow cytometry; FCS; data standard; file format; bioinformatics
Purpose and Appropriate Sample Types
This panel was optimized to assess CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses to various tumor antigens from melanoma patients. The panel was tested on single-cell derived T cell isolates (SCD-T) and T cell lines derived from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from melanoma patients, T cell lines from the tumor environment of melanoma patients, and fresh and cryopreserved PBMC (healthy donors). Staining can be performed in 96-well plates for high-throughput.
Immunophenotype; T cells; intracellular cytokine staining; melanoma
Flow cytometry has been a fundamental tool of biological discovery for many years. Invasive extraction of cells from a living organism, however, may lead to changes in cell properties and prevents studying cells in their native environment. These problems can be overcome by use of in vivo flow cytometry which provides detection and imaging of circulating normal and abnormal cells directlyin blood or lymph flow. The goal of this mini-review is to provide a brief history, features and challenges of this new generation of flow cytometry methods and instruments. Spectrum of possibilities of in vivo flow cytometry in biological science (e.g., cell metabolism, immune function, or apoptosis) and medical fields (e.g., cancer, infection, cardiovascular disorder) including integrated photoacoustic-photothermal theranostics of circulating abnormal cells are discussed with focus on recent advances of this new platform.
flow cytometry; spectral imaging; photoacoustic and photothermal methods; fluorescence; Raman spectroscopy; blood and lymph flows; circulating tumor cells; bacteria, and multicolor nanoparticles; theranostics
The androgen receptor (AR) is a steroid hormone receptor which regulates transcription of androgen-sensitive genes and is responsible for the development and maintenance of male secondary sexual characteristics. Chemicals that interfere with AR activity may lead to pathological conditions in androgen-sensitive tissues. A variety of reporter systems have been developed, driven by androgen sensitive promoters, which screen for chemicals that modulate androgenic activity. We have developed a flexible, high-throughput AR transcriptional activation assay, designated the Multifunctional Androgen Receptor Screening (MARS) assay, to facilitate the identification of novel modulators of AR transcriptional activity using flow cytometry.
Androgen-independent human prostate cancer-derived PC3 cells were transiently co-transfected with an expression vector for the wild-type human AR and an androgen-sensitive promoter regulating the expression of destabilized enhanced GFP (dsEGFP). The transfected cells were stimulated with established androgenic and antiandrogenic compounds and assessed for increased or decreased dsEGFP expression. To screen for antagonists of AR transcription, the AR agonist R1881 was co-administered at sub-maximal concentrations with potential AR antagonists. The assay was formatted for high throughput screening using the HyperCyt® flow cytometry system.
Agents with established androgenic and antiandrogenic activity were used for validation of the MARS assay. AR agonists were found to potently induce dsEGFP. Furthermore, AR agonists induced dsEGFP expression in a dose-dependent manner. Alternatively, AR antagonists blocked dsEGFP expression when co-administered with low-dose R1881, which also occurred in a dose-dependent manner.
Modulators of AR transcriptional activity can be successfully identified by the MARS assay, utilizing a rapid, flexible, sensitive, and high-throughput format. Dose-response curves can be successfully generated for these compounds, allowing for an assessment of potency. Due to its simplicity and high-throughput compatibility, the MARS assay and HyperCyt® system combined with flow cytometric analysis represents a valuable and novel addition to the current repertoire of AR transcriptional activation screening assays.
Androgen receptor assay; androgens; antiandrogens; flow cytometry; HyperCyt®; biomolecular screening
To study the process of morphogenesis, one often needs to collect and segment time-lapse images of living tissues to accurately track changing cellular morphology. This task typically involves segmenting and tracking tens to hundreds of individual cells over hundreds of image frames – a scale that would certainly benefit from automated routines; however, any automated routine would need to reliably handle a large number of sporadic, and yet typical problems (e.g., illumination inconsistency, photobleaching, rapid cell motions, drift of focus or of cells moving through the imaging plane). Here, we present a segmentation and cell tracking approach based on the premise that users know their data best – interpreting and using image features that are not accounted for in any a priori algorithm design. We have developed a program, SeedWater Segmenter (SWS), that combines a parameter-less and fast automated watershed algorithm with a suite of manual intervention tools that enables users with little to no specialized knowledge of image processing to efficiently segment images with near-perfect accuracy based on simple user interactions.
image segmentation; computer-assisted image processing; tissue analysis; confocal microscopy; Drosophila; embryogenesis