Automated recognition of patterns characteristic of subcellular structures in fluorescence microscopy images

Cytometry. 1998 Nov 1;33(3):366-75.


Methods for numerical description and subsequent classification of cellular protein localization patterns are described. Images representing the localization patterns of 4 proteins and DNA were obtained using fluorescence microscopy and divided into distinct training and test sets. The images were processed to remove out-of-focus and background fluorescence and 2 sets of numeric features were generated: Zernike moments and Haralick texture features. These feature sets were used as inputs to either a classification tree or a neural network. Classifier performance (the average percent of each type of image correctly classified) on previously unseen images ranged from 63% for a classification tree using Zernike moments to 88% for a backpropagation neural network using a combination of features from the 2 feature sets. These results demonstrate the feasibility of applying pattern recognition methods to subcellular localization patterns, enabling sets of previously unseen images from a single class to be classified with an expected accuracy greater than 99%. This will provide not only a new automated way to describe proteins, based on localization rather than sequence, but also has potential application in the automation of microscope functions and in the field of gene discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Image Enhancement
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated
  • Proteins / analysis


  • Proteins