What's wrong with correlative experiments?
ABSTRACT Here, we make a case for multivariate measurements in cell biology with minimal perturbation. We discuss how correlative data can identify cause-effect relationships in cellular pathways with potentially greater accuracy than conventional perturbation studies.
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ABSTRACT: Integrative analytical approaches are needed to study and understand T cell motility as it is a highly coordinated and complex process. Several computational algorithms and tools are available to track motile cells in time-lapse microscopy images. In contrast, there has only been limited effort towards the development of tools that take advantage of multi-channel microscopy data and facilitate integrative analysis of cell-motility. We have implemented algorithms for detecting, tracking, and analyzing cell motility from multi-channel time-lapse microscopy data. We have integrated these into a MATLAB-based toolset we call TIAM (Tool for Integrative Analysis of Motility). The cells are detected by a hybrid approach involving edge detection and Hough transforms from transmitted light images. Cells are tracked using a modified nearest-neighbor association followed by an optimization routine to join shorter segments. Cell positions are used to perform local segmentation for extracting features from transmitted light, reflection and fluorescence channels and associating them with cells and cell-tracks to facilitate integrative analysis. We found that TIAM accurately captures the motility behavior of T cells and performed better than DYNAMIK, Icy, Imaris, and Volocity in detecting and tracking motile T cells. Extraction of cell-associated features from reflection and fluorescence channels was also accurate with less than 10% median error in measurements. Finally, we obtained novel insights into T cell motility that were critically dependent on the unique capabilities of TIAM. We found that 1) the CD45RO subset of human CD8 T cells moved faster and exhibited an increased propensity to attach to the substratum during CCL21-driven chemokinesis when compared to the CD45RA subset; and 2) attachment area and arrest coefficient during antigen-induced motility of the CD45A subset is correlated with surface density of integrin LFA1 at the contact.Journal of Immunological Methods 11/2014; · 2.01 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Heterogeneous and dynamic single cell migration behaviours arise from a complex multi-scale signalling network comprising both molecular components and macromolecular modules, among which cell-matrix adhesions and F-actin directly mediate migration. To date, the global wiring architecture characterizing this network remains poorly defined. It is also unclear whether such a wiring pattern may be stable and generalizable to different conditions, or plastic and context dependent. Here, synchronous imaging-based quantification of migration system organization, represented by 87 morphological and dynamic macromolecular module features, and migration system behaviour, i.e., migration speed, facilitated Granger causality analysis. We thereby leveraged natural cellular heterogeneity to begin mapping the directionally specific causal wiring between organizational and behavioural features of the cell migration system. This represents an important advance on commonly used correlative analyses that do not resolve causal directionality. We identified organizational features such as adhesion stability and adhesion F-actin content that, as anticipated, causally influenced cell migration speed. Strikingly, we also found that cell speed can exert causal influence over organizational features, including cell shape and adhesion complex location, thus revealing causality in directions contradictory to previous expectations. Importantly, by comparing unperturbed and signalling-modulated cells, we provide proof-of-principle that causal interaction patterns are in fact plastic and context dependent, rather than stable and generalizable.PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e90593. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Computational models of cell signalling are perceived by many biologists to be prohibitively complicated. Why do math when you can simply do another experiment? Here, we explain how conceptual models, which have been formulated mathematically, have provided insights that directly advance experimental cell biology. In the past several years, models have influenced the way we talk about signalling networks, how we monitor them, and what we conclude when we perturb them. These insights required wet-lab experiments but would not have arisen without explicit computational modelling and quantitative analysis. Today, the best modellers are cross-trained investigators in experimental biology who work closely with collaborators but also undertake experimental work in their own laboratories. Biologists would benefit by becoming conversant in core principles of modelling in order to identify when a computational model could be a useful complement to their experiments. Although the mathematical foundations of a model are useful to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses, they are not required to test or generate a worthwhile biological hypothesis computationally.Journal of Cell Science 05/2013; 126(Pt 9):1913-1921. · 5.33 Impact Factor