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1.  A sensitised RNAi screen reveals a ch-TOG genetic interaction network required for spindle assembly 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:10564.
How multiple spindle assembly pathways are integrated to drive bipolar spindle assembly is poorly understood. We performed an image-based double RNAi screen to identify genes encoding Microtubule-Associated Proteins (MAPs) that interact with the highly conserved ch-TOG gene to regulate bipolar spindle assembly in human cells. We identified a ch-TOG centred network of genetic interactions which promotes ensures centrosome-mediated microtubule polymerisation, leading to the incorporation of microtubules polymerised by all pathways into a bipolar structure. Our genetic screen also reveals that ch-TOG maintains a dynamic microtubule population, in part, through modulating HSET activity. ch-TOG ensures that spindle assembly is robust to perturbation but sufficiently dynamic such that spindles can explore a diverse shape space in search of structures that can align chromosomes.
doi:10.1038/srep10564
PMCID: PMC4453164  PMID: 26037491
2.  Visualizing cellular imaging data using PhenoPlot 
Nature Communications  2015;6:5825.
Visualization is essential for data interpretation, hypothesis formulation and communication of results. However, there is a paucity of visualization methods for image-derived data sets generated by high-content analysis in which complex cellular phenotypes are described as high-dimensional vectors of features. Here we present a visualization tool, PhenoPlot, which represents quantitative high-content imaging data as easily interpretable glyphs, and we illustrate how PhenoPlot can be used to improve the exploration and interpretation of complex breast cancer cell phenotypes.
Cellular imaging studies can generate large volumes of complex phenotypic data; however, presenting this information in a form that quickly conveys trends in the data set remains a challenge. Sailem et al. present a tool which translates such data into easily interpretable cell-like glyphs.
doi:10.1038/ncomms6825
PMCID: PMC4354266  PMID: 25569359
3.  Cell shape and the microenvironment regulate nuclear translocation of NF-κB in breast epithelial and tumor cells 
Molecular Systems Biology  2015;11(3):0790.
Although a great deal is known about the signaling events that promote nuclear translocation of NF-κB, how cellular biophysics and the microenvironment might regulate the dynamics of this pathway is poorly understood. In this study, we used high-content image analysis and Bayesian network modeling to ask whether cell shape and context features influence NF-κB activation using the inherent variability present in unperturbed populations of breast tumor and non-tumor cell lines. Cell–cell contact, cell and nuclear area, and protrusiveness all contributed to variability in NF-κB localization in the absence and presence of TNFα. Higher levels of nuclear NF-κB were associated with mesenchymal-like versus epithelial-like morphologies, and RhoA-ROCK-myosin II signaling was critical for mediating shape-based differences in NF-κB localization and oscillations. Thus, mechanical factors such as cell shape and the microenvironment can influence NF-κB signaling and may in part explain how different phenotypic outcomes can arise from the same chemical cues.
doi:10.15252/msb.20145644
PMCID: PMC4380925  PMID: 25735303
Bayesian; breast cancer; morphology; NF-κB; RhoA
4.  Signaling Networks Converge on TORC1-SREBP Activity to Promote Endoplasmic Reticulum Homeostasis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101164.
The function and capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is determined by multiple processes ranging from the local regulation of peptide translation, translocation, and folding, to global changes in lipid composition. ER homeostasis thus requires complex interactions amongst numerous cellular components. However, describing the networks that maintain ER function during changes in cell behavior and environmental fluctuations has, to date, proven difficult. Here we perform a systems-level analysis of ER homeostasis, and find that although signaling networks that regulate ER function have a largely modular architecture, the TORC1-SREBP signaling axis is a central node that integrates signals emanating from different sub-networks. TORC1-SREBP promotes ER homeostasis by regulating phospholipid biosynthesis and driving changes in ER morphology. In particular, our network model shows TORC1-SREBP serves to integrate signals promoting growth and G1-S progression in order to maintain ER function during cell proliferation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101164
PMCID: PMC4090155  PMID: 25007267
5.  Cross-talk between Rho and Rac GTPases drives deterministic exploration of cellular shape space and morphological heterogeneity 
Open Biology  2014;4(1):130132.
One goal of cell biology is to understand how cells adopt different shapes in response to varying environmental and cellular conditions. Achieving a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between cell shape and environment requires a systems-level understanding of the signalling networks that respond to external cues and regulate the cytoskeleton. Classical biochemical and genetic approaches have identified thousands of individual components that contribute to cell shape, but it remains difficult to predict how cell shape is generated by the activity of these components using bottom-up approaches because of the complex nature of their interactions in space and time. Here, we describe the regulation of cellular shape by signalling systems using a top-down approach. We first exploit the shape diversity generated by systematic RNAi screening and comprehensively define the shape space a migratory cell explores. We suggest a simple Boolean model involving the activation of Rac and Rho GTPases in two compartments to explain the basis for all cell shapes in the dataset. Critically, we also generate a probabilistic graphical model to show how cells explore this space in a deterministic, rather than a stochastic, fashion. We validate the predictions made by our model using live-cell imaging. Our work explains how cross-talk between Rho and Rac can generate different cell shapes, and thus morphological heterogeneity, in genetically identical populations.
doi:10.1098/rsob.130132
PMCID: PMC3909273  PMID: 24451547
cell morphogenesis; RNAi screening; image analysis; Bayesian learning
6.  A Screen for Morphological Complexity Identifies Regulators of Switch-like Transitions between Discrete Cell Shapes 
Nature cell biology  2013;15(7):860-871.
The way in which cells adopt different morphologies is not fully understood. Cell shape could be a continuous variable or restricted to a set of discrete forms. We developed quantitative methods to describe cell shape and show that Drosophila hemocytes in culture are a heterogeneous mixture of five discrete morphologies. In an RNAi screen of genes affecting the morphological complexity of heterogeneous populations, we found that most genes regulate the transition between discrete shapes rather than generating new morphologies. In particular, we identified a subset of genes, including the tumour suppressor PTEN, that decrease the heterogeneity of the population leading to populations enriched in rounded or elongated forms. We show that these genes have a highly conserved function as regulators of cell shape in both mouse and human metastatic melanoma cells.
doi:10.1038/ncb2764
PMCID: PMC3712499  PMID: 23748611
7.  Genomic Screening with RNAi: Results and Challenges 
RNA interference (RNAi) is an effective tool for genome-scale, high-throughput analysis of gene function. In the past five years, a number of genome-scale RNAi high-throughput screens (HTSs) have been done in both Drosophila and mammalian cultured cells to study diverse biological processes, including signal transduction, cancer biology, and host cell responses to infection. Results from these screens have led to the identification of new components of these processes and, importantly, have also provided insights into the complexity of biological systems, forcing new and innovative approaches to understanding functional networks in cells. Here, we review the main findings that have emerged from RNAi HTS and discuss technical issues that remain to be improved, in particular the verification of RNAi results and validation of their biological relevance. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of multiplexed and integrated experimental data analysis pipelines to RNAi HTS.
doi:10.1146/annurev-biochem-060408-092949
PMCID: PMC3564595  PMID: 20367032
bioinformatics; cell biology; Drosophila; high-throughput screening
8.  Drosophila RNAi screening in a postgenomic world 
Briefings in Functional Genomics  2011;10(4):197-205.
Drosophila melanogaster has a long history as a model organism with several unique features that make it an ideal research tool for the study of the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Importantly fundamental genetic principles as well as key human disease genes have been uncovered through the use of Drosophila. The contribution of the fruit fly to science and medicine continues in the postgenomic era as cell-based Drosophila RNAi screens are a cost-effective and scalable enabling technology that can be used to quantify the contribution of different genes to diverse cellular processes. Drosophila high-throughput screens can also be used as integral part of systems-level approaches to describe the architecture and dynamics of cellular networks.
doi:10.1093/bfgp/elr015
PMCID: PMC3144739  PMID: 21752787
RNAi, cell-based screens; Drosophila melanogaster; genetic interactions; systems biology
9.  Paxillin Mediates Sensing of Physical Cues and Regulates Directional Cell Motility by Controlling Lamellipodia Positioning 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28303.
Physical interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) guide directional migration by spatially controlling where cells form focal adhesions (FAs), which in turn regulate the extension of motile processes. Here we show that physical control of directional migration requires the FA scaffold protein paxillin. Using single-cell sized ECM islands to constrain cell shape, we found that fibroblasts cultured on square islands preferentially activated Rac and extended lamellipodia from corner, rather than side regions after 30 min stimulation with PDGF, but that cells lacking paxillin failed to restrict Rac activity to corners and formed small lamellipodia along their entire peripheries. This spatial preference was preceded by non-spatially constrained formation of both dorsal and lateral membrane ruffles from 5–10 min. Expression of paxillin N-terminal (paxN) or C-terminal (paxC) truncation mutants produced opposite, but complementary, effects on lamellipodia formation. Surprisingly, pax−/− and paxN cells also formed more circular dorsal ruffles (CDRs) than pax+ cells, while paxC cells formed fewer CDRs and extended larger lamellipodia even in the absence of PDGF. In a two-dimensional (2D) wound assay, pax−/− cells migrated at similar speeds to controls but lost directional persistence. Directional motility was rescued by expressing full-length paxillin or the N-terminus alone, but paxN cells migrated more slowly. In contrast, pax−/− and paxN cells exhibited increased migration in a three-dimensional (3D) invasion assay, with paxN cells invading Matrigel even in the absence of PDGF. These studies indicate that paxillin integrates physical and chemical motility signals by spatially constraining where cells will form motile processes, and thereby regulates directional migration both in 2D and 3D. These findings also suggest that CDRs may correspond to invasive protrusions that drive cell migration through 3D extracellular matrices.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028303
PMCID: PMC3237434  PMID: 22194823
10.  The Twin Spot Generator for differential Drosophila lineage analysis 
Nature methods  2009;6(8):600-602.
In Drosophila, widely-used mitotic recombination-based strategies generate mosaic flies with positive readout for only one daughter cell after division. To differentially label both daughter cells, we developed the Twin Spot Generator technique (TSG) and demonstrate that through mitotic recombination, TSG generates green and red twin spots in internal fly tissues, visible even as single cells. We discuss the wide applications of TSG to lineage and genetic mosaic studies.
doi:10.1038/nmeth.1349
PMCID: PMC2720837  PMID: 19633664
11.  Phosphorylation Networks Regulating JNK Activity in Diverse Genetic Backgrounds 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2008;322(5900):453-456.
Cellular signaling networks have evolved to enable swift and accurate responses, even in the face of genetic or environmental perturbation. Thus, genetic screens may not identify all the genes that regulate different biological processes. Moreover, although classical screening approaches have succeeded in providing parts lists of the essential components of signaling networks, they typically do not provide much insight into the hierarchical and functional relations that exist among these components. We describe a high-throughput screen in which we used RNA interference to systematically inhibit two genes simultaneously in 17,724 combinations to identify regulators of Drosophila JUN NH2-terminal kinase (JNK). Using both genetic and phosphoproteomics data, we then implemented an integrative network algorithm to construct a JNK phosphorylation network, which provides structural and mechanistic insights into the systems architecture of JNK signaling.
doi:10.1126/science.1158739
PMCID: PMC2581798  PMID: 18927396
12.  Using iterative cluster merging with improved gap statistics to perform online phenotype discovery in the context of high-throughput RNAi screens 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:264.
Background
The recent emergence of high-throughput automated image acquisition technologies has forever changed how cell biologists collect and analyze data. Historically, the interpretation of cellular phenotypes in different experimental conditions has been dependent upon the expert opinions of well-trained biologists. Such qualitative analysis is particularly effective in detecting subtle, but important, deviations in phenotypes. However, while the rapid and continuing development of automated microscope-based technologies now facilitates the acquisition of trillions of cells in thousands of diverse experimental conditions, such as in the context of RNA interference (RNAi) or small-molecule screens, the massive size of these datasets precludes human analysis. Thus, the development of automated methods which aim to identify novel and biological relevant phenotypes online is one of the major challenges in high-throughput image-based screening. Ideally, phenotype discovery methods should be designed to utilize prior/existing information and tackle three challenging tasks, i.e. restoring pre-defined biological meaningful phenotypes, differentiating novel phenotypes from known ones and clarifying novel phenotypes from each other. Arbitrarily extracted information causes biased analysis, while combining the complete existing datasets with each new image is intractable in high-throughput screens.
Results
Here we present the design and implementation of a novel and robust online phenotype discovery method with broad applicability that can be used in diverse experimental contexts, especially high-throughput RNAi screens. This method features phenotype modelling and iterative cluster merging using improved gap statistics. A Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM) is employed to estimate the distribution of each existing phenotype, and then used as reference distribution in gap statistics. This method is broadly applicable to a number of different types of image-based datasets derived from a wide spectrum of experimental conditions and is suitable to adaptively process new images which are continuously added to existing datasets. Validations were carried out on different dataset, including published RNAi screening using Drosophila embryos [Additional files 1, 2], dataset for cell cycle phase identification using HeLa cells [Additional files 1, 3, 4] and synthetic dataset using polygons, our methods tackled three aforementioned tasks effectively with an accuracy range of 85%–90%. When our method is implemented in the context of a Drosophila genome-scale RNAi image-based screening of cultured cells aimed to identifying the contribution of individual genes towards the regulation of cell-shape, it efficiently discovers meaningful new phenotypes and provides novel biological insight. We also propose a two-step procedure to modify the novelty detection method based on one-class SVM, so that it can be used to online phenotype discovery. In different conditions, we compared the SVM based method with our method using various datasets and our methods consistently outperformed SVM based method in at least two of three tasks by 2% to 5%. These results demonstrate that our methods can be used to better identify novel phenotypes in image-based datasets from a wide range of conditions and organisms.
Conclusion
We demonstrate that our method can detect various novel phenotypes effectively in complex datasets. Experiment results also validate that our method performs consistently under different order of image input, variation of starting conditions including the number and composition of existing phenotypes, and dataset from different screens. In our findings, the proposed method is suitable for online phenotype discovery in diverse high-throughput image-based genetic and chemical screens.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-264
PMCID: PMC2443381  PMID: 18534020
13.  Survivin Loss in Thymocytes Triggers p53-mediated Growth Arrest and p53-independent Cell Death 
Because survivin-null embryos die at an early embryonic stage, the role of survivin in thymocyte development is unknown. We have investigated the role by deleting the survivin gene only in the T lineage and show here that loss of survivin blocks the transition from CD4− CD8− double negative (DN) thymocytes to CD4+ CD8+ double positive cells. Although the pre–T cell receptor signaling pathway is intact in survivin-deficient thymocytes, the cells cannot respond to its signals. In response to proliferative stimuli, cycling survivin-deficient DN cells exhibit cell cycle arrest, a spindle formation defect, and increased cell death. Strikingly, loss of survivin activates the tumor suppressor p53. However, the developmental defects caused by survivin deficiency cannot be rescued by p53 inactivation or introduction of Bcl-2. These lines of evidence indicate that developing thymocytes depend on the cytoprotective function of survivin and that this function is tightly coupled to cell proliferation but independent of p53 and Bcl-2. Thus, survivin plays a critical role in early thymocyte development.
doi:10.1084/jem.20032092
PMCID: PMC2211792  PMID: 14757745
pre–T cell; cell death; development; thymus; mitosis

Results 1-13 (13)