Estimation of cellular fabric in embryonic epithelia

TitleEstimation of cellular fabric in embryonic epithelia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsClausi, D. A., P. Iles, G. W. Brodland, and S. Puddister
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Pagination75 - 84
KeywordsCellular fabric, embryogenesis, image processing, Tissue mechanics

Recent computational and analytical studies have shown that cellular fabric-as embodied by average cell size, aspect ratio and orientation-is a key indicator of the stresses acting in an embryonic epithelium. Cellular fabric in real embryonic tissues could not previously be measured automatically because the cell boundaries tend to be poorly defined, significant lighting and cell pigmentation differences occur and tissues contain a variety of cell geometries. To overcome these difficulties, four algorithms were developed: least squares ellipse fitting (LSEF), area moments (AM), correlation and axes search (CAS) and Gabor filters (GF). The AM method was found to be the most reliable of these methods, giving typical cell size, aspect ratio and orientation errors of 18%, 0.10 and 7.4 degrees, respectively, when evaluated against manually segmented images. The power of the AM algorithm to provide new insights into the mechanics of morphogenesis is demonstrated through a brief investigation of gastrulation, where fabric data suggest that key gastrulation movements are driven by epidermal tensions circumferential to the blastopore.