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  1. Abstract Time-lapse imaging is a powerful approach to gain insight into the dynamic responses of cells, but the quantitative analysis of morphological changes over time remains challenging. Here, we exploit the concept of “trajectory embedding” to analyze cellular behavior using morphological feature trajectory histories—that is, multiple time points simultaneously, rather than the more common practice of examining morphological feature time courses in single timepoint (snapshot) morphological features. We apply this approach to analyze live-cell images of MCF10A mammary epithelial cells after treatment with a panel of microenvironmental perturbagens that strongly modulate cell motility, morphology, and cell cycle behavior. Our morphodynamical trajectory embedding analysis constructs a shared cell state landscape revealing ligand-specific regulation of cell state transitions and enables quantitative and descriptive models of single-cell trajectories. Additionally, we show that incorporation of trajectories into single-cell morphological analysis enables (i) systematic characterization of cell state trajectories, (ii) better separation of phenotypes, and (iii) more descriptive models of ligand-induced differences as compared to snapshot-based analysis. This morphodynamical trajectory embedding is broadly applicable to the quantitative analysis of cell responses via live-cell imaging across many biological and biomedical applications. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Gap junctions establish direct pathways for cells to transfer metabolic and electrical messages. The local lipid environment is known to affect the structure, stability and intercellular channel activity of gap junctions; however, the molecular basis for these effects remains unknown. Here, we incorporate native connexin-46/50 (Cx46/50) intercellular channels into a dual lipid nanodisc system, mimicking a native cell-to-cell junction. Structural characterization by CryoEM reveals a lipid-induced stabilization to the channel, resulting in a 3D reconstruction at 1.9 Å resolution. Together with all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, it is shown that Cx46/50 in turn imparts long-range stabilization to the dynamic local lipid environment that is specific to the extracellular lipid leaflet. In addition, ~400 water molecules are resolved in the CryoEM map, localized throughout the intercellular permeation pathway and contributing to the channel architecture. These results illustrate how the aqueous-lipid environment is integrated with the architectural stability, structure and function of gap junction communication channels.

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