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Robust Image Processing Techniques for Tracking and Cell Shape Outlining: Application to Mammalian Circadian Behaviour of Cells

C. Dibner, D. Sage, Ü. Schibler, M. Unser

Basel Computational Biology Conference, From Euler to Computational Biology: Integrating Mathematics into Biological Research (USGEB/[BC]2'07), Basel BS, Swiss Confederation, March 13-14, 2007.



The mammalian circadian timing system has a hierarchical structure in that a master pacemaker residing in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) synchronizes slave oscillators existing in most body cells. While oscillators in SCN neurons are known to function in a self-sustained fashion, rhythms of peripheral oscillators have been thought to damp rapidly when disconnected from the control exerted by the SCN. Recent advances in time-lapse fluorescence imaging have provided an important tool to study the mechanisms underlying circadian clock work at the individual cell level under different conditions. Transgenic NIH 3T3 cell line stably expressing a short-lived and nuclear yellow fluorescent protein (VNP) from circadian regulatory elements of the Reverbα locus was recently established in Ueli Schibler's lab and successfully used to unravel interactions between the circadian clock and the cell division clock. However, existing computational image processing methods are rather limited in analyzing and tracking such time-lapse datasets, and manual analysis is unreasonably time-consuming and subject to errors in observer judgement.


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