Deformable Graph Model for Tracking Epithelial Cell Sheets in Fluorescence Microscopy.
We propose a novel method for tracking cells that are connected through a visible network of membrane junctions. Tissues of this form are common in epithelial cell sheets and resemble planar graphs where each face corresponds to a cell. We leverage this structure and develop a method to track the entire tissue as a deformable graph. This coupled model in which vertices inform the optimal placement of edges and vice versa captures global relationships between tissue components and leads to accurate and robust cell tracking. We compare the performance of our method with that of four reference tracking algorithms on four data sets that present unique tracking challenges. Our method exhibits consistently superior performance in tracking all cells accurately over all image frames, and is robust over a wide range of image intensity and cell shape profiles. This may be an important tool for characterizing tissues of this type especially in the field of developmental biology where automated cell analysis can help elucidate the mechanisms behind controlled cell-shape changes.
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