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Title: Machine learning-assisted imaging analysis of a human epiblast model
Abstract The human embryo is a complex structure that emerges and develops as a result of cell-level decisions guided by both intrinsic genetic programs and cell–cell interactions. Given limited accessibility and associated ethical constraints of human embryonic tissue samples, researchers have turned to the use of human stem cells to generate embryo models to study specific embryogenic developmental steps. However, to study complex self-organizing developmental events using embryo models, there is a need for computational and imaging tools for detailed characterization of cell-level dynamics at the single cell level. In this work, we obtained live cell imaging data from a human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based epiblast model that can recapitulate the lumenal epiblast cyst formation soon after implantation of the human blastocyst. By processing imaging data with a Python pipeline that incorporates both cell tracking and event recognition with the use of a CNN-LSTM machine learning model, we obtained detailed temporal information of changes in cell state and neighborhood during the dynamic growth and morphogenesis of lumenal hPSC cysts. The use of this tool combined with reporter lines for cell types of interest will drive future mechanistic studies of hPSC fate specification in embryo models and will advance our understanding of how cell-level decisions lead to global organization and emergent phenomena. Insight, innovation, integration: Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have been successfully used to model and understand cellular events that take place during human embryogenesis. Understanding how cell–cell and cell–environment interactions guide cell actions within a hPSC-based embryo model is a key step in elucidating the mechanisms driving system-level embryonic patterning and growth. In this work, we present a robust video analysis pipeline that incorporates the use of machine learning methods to fully characterize the process of hPSC self-organization into lumenal cysts to mimic the lumenal epiblast cyst formation soon after implantation of the human blastocyst. This pipeline will be a useful tool for understanding cellular mechanisms underlying key embryogenic events in embryo models.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1933061 1901718
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Integrative Biology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
221 to 229
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    Proper metabolism is essential for embryo viability. Metabolic imaging is a well-tested method for measuring metabolism of cells and tissues, but it is unclear if it is sensitive enough and safe enough for use in embryo assessment.


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    The study was performed using a mouse model, so conclusions concerning sensitivity and safety may not generalize to human embryos. A limitation of the live birth data is also that although cages were routinely monitored, we could not preclude that some runt pups may have been eaten.


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    Supported by the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator Grant at Harvard University and by the Harvard Catalyst/The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Institutes of Health Award UL1 TR001102), by NSF grants DMR-0820484 and PFI-TT-1827309 and by NIH grant R01HD092550-01. T.S. was supported by a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology grant (1308878). S.F. and S.A. were supported by NSF MRSEC DMR-1420382. Becker and Hickl GmbH sponsored the research with the loaning of equipment for FLIM. T.S. and D.N. are cofounders and shareholders of LuminOva, Inc., and co-hold patents (US20150346100A1 and US20170039415A1) for metabolic imaging methods. D.S. is on the scientific advisory board for Cooper Surgical and has stock options with LuminOva, Inc.

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