Cell polarity involves the compartmentalization of the cell cortex. The establishment of cortical compartments arises from the spatial bias in the activity and concentration of cortical proteins. The mechanistic dissection of cell polarity requires the accurate detection of dynamic changes in cortical proteins, but the fluctuations of cell shape and the inhomogeneous distributions of cortical proteins greatly complicate the quantitative extraction of their global and local changes during cell polarization. To address these problems, we introduce an open-source software package, ImaEdge, which automates the segmentation of the cortex from time-lapse movies, and enables quantitative extraction of cortical protein intensities. We demonstrate that ImaEdge enables efficient and rigorous analysis of the dynamic evolution of cortical PAR proteins during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis. It is also capable of accurate tracking of varying levels of transgene expression and discontinuous signals of the actomyosin cytoskeleton during multiple rounds of cell division. ImaEdge provides a unique resource for quantitative studies of cortical polarization, with the potential for application to many types of polarized cells.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first authors of the paper.
Keywords: Actomyosin; C. elegans; Cortex; Image processing; PAR protein; Polarity; Segmentation; Zygote.
© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.