Automatic quantification tool for JAIL

A new analysis tool automatically detects newly created JAILs in microscopy videos.
© Seebach/Wirth

Project title: Quantitative analysis of local subcellular cell junction activity by JAIL formation and its impact on endothelial cell migration and barrier function
Principal investigators: Jochen Seebach, Benedikt Wirth
Project time: 07/2016 - 10/2018
Project code: FF-2016-15

Researchers from Münster have recently discovered: Special cell protuberances, so-called junction associated intermittent lamellipodia (JAIL), decide how firmly endothelial cells are joined together. Endothelial cells lines the interior of blood vessels. Circular, flat cell protuberances (lamellipodia) are formed which overlap other cells. Researchers assume that JAIL are important not only for healing processes in wounds, but also in the case of inflammations or vascular development. However, many details are still unclear. For example, how many JAIL are needed to close gaps between cells? Are just a few, at appropriate places, sufficient? When and where are JAIL formed? How large should they be?

In order to find answers to such questions, the research groups of mathematician Prof. Benedikt Wirth and chemists Dr. Jochen Seebach are developing an automatic quantification tool in this CiM project. They aim to use the tool not only to automatically search the time-lapse recordings for JAIL, but also to quantify them using certain parameters such as size, frequency, speed, form and duration. The challenge for the mathematicians is that microscopy videos consist of hundreds of individual pictures in which a computer first has to detect JAIL. If that produces reliable results, JAIL can be detected and quantified automatically in a variety of experiments, with respect to the above-mentioned parameters. The chemists want to identify the underlying signally pathways that are important for the formation and dynamics of JAILs. In addition, the study will investigate the influence of JAILs on cell morphology and the “thightness” of endothelial cell junctions.