Automated analysis of a diverse synapse population.

Biophysics Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America
PLoS Computational Biology (Impact Factor: 4.83). 03/2013; 9(3):e1002976. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002976
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Synapses of the mammalian central nervous system are highly diverse in function and molecular composition. Synapse diversity per se may be critical to brain function, since memory and homeostatic mechanisms are thought to be rooted primarily in activity-dependent plastic changes in specific subsets of individual synapses. Unfortunately, the measurement of synapse diversity has been restricted by the limitations of methods capable of measuring synapse properties at the level of individual synapses. Array tomography is a new high-resolution, high-throughput proteomic imaging method that has the potential to advance the measurement of unit-level synapse diversity across large and diverse synapse populations. Here we present an automated feature extraction and classification algorithm designed to quantify synapses from high-dimensional array tomographic data too voluminous for manual analysis. We demonstrate the use of this method to quantify laminar distributions of synapses in mouse somatosensory cortex and validate the classification process by detecting the presence of known but uncommon proteomic profiles. Such classification and quantification will be highly useful in identifying specific subpopulations of synapses exhibiting plasticity in response to perturbations from the environment or the sensory periphery.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We describe a method for fully automated detection of chemical synapses in serial electron microscopy images with highly anisotropic axial and lateral resolution, such as images taken on transmission electron microscopes. Our pipeline starts from classification of the pixels based on 3D pixel features, which is followed by segmentation with an Ising model MRF and another classification step, based on object-level features. Classifiers are learned on sparse user labels; a fully annotated data subvolume is not required for training. The algorithm was validated on a set of 238 synapses in 20 serial 7197×7351 pixel images (4.5×4.5×45 nm resolution) of mouse visual cortex, manually labeled by three independent human annotators and additionally re-verified by an expert neuroscientist. The error rate of the algorithm (12% false negative, 7% false positive detections) is better than state-of-the-art, even though, unlike the state-of-the-art method, our algorithm does not require a prior segmentation of the image volume into cells. The software is based on the ilastik learning and segmentation toolkit and the vigra image processing library and is freely available on our website, along with the test data and gold standard annotations (
    PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e87351. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0087351 · 3.53 Impact Factor


Available from