Tracking and quantitative analysis of dynamic movements of cells and particles

K. Rohr, W. Godinez, N. Harder, S. Wörz, J. Mattes, W. Tvaruskó, R. Eils. Tracking and quantitative analysis of dynamic movements of cells and particles. Cold Spring Harbor Protocol, volume 2010, number 6, pages doi:10.1101/pdb.top80, 6, 2010.

  • Karl Rohr
  • William J. Godinez
  • Nathalie Harder
  • Stefan Wörz
  • Julian Mattes
  • Wolfgang Tvaruskó
  • Roland Eils
JournalCold Spring Harbor Protocol
Abstract Understanding complex cellular processes requires investigating the underlying mechanisms within a spatiotemporal context. Although cellular processes are dynamic in nature, most studies in molecular cell biology are based on fixed specimens, for example, using immunocytochemistry or fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). However, breakthroughs in fluorescence microscopy imaging techniques, in particular, the discovery of green fluorescent protein (GFP) and its spectral variants, have facilitated the study of a wide range of dynamic processes by allowing nondestructive labeling of target structures in living cells. In addition, the tremendous improvements in spatial and temporal resolution of light microscopes now allow cellular processes to be analyzed in unprecedented detail. These state-of-the-art imaging technologies, however, provide a huge amount of digital image data. To cope with the enormous amount of image data and to extract reproducible as well as quantitative information, computer-based image analysis is required. In this article, we describe methods for computer-based analysis of multidimensional live cell microscopy images and their application to study the dynamics of cells and particles. First, we sketch a general workflow for quantitative analysis of live cell images. Then, we detail computational methods for automatic image analysis comprising image preprocessing, segmentation, registration, tracking, and classification. We conclude with a discussion of quantitative analysis and systems biology.