Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Ianzini, Fiorenza

Second Advisor

Mackey, Michael A

First Committee Member

Reinhardt, Joseph M

Second Committee Member

Lim, Tae-Hong

Third Committee Member

Casavant, Thomas L


Live cell imaging is a unique tool for cellular research with a wide variety of applications. By streaming digital microscopic images an investigator can observe the dynamic morphology of a cell, track cell movement on a surface, and measure quantities or localization patterns of fluorescently labeled proteins or molecules. Digital image sequences contain a vast amount of information in the form of visually detectable morphological changes in the cell. We designed computer programs that allow the manual identification of visible events in live cell digital image sequences [Davis et al. 2007]. Once identified, the data are analyzed using algorithms to calculate the yield of individual events per cell over the time course of image acquisition. The sequence of event data is also constructed into directed acyclic graphs and through the use of a subgraph isomorphism algorithm we are able to detect specified patterns of events originating from a single cell. Two projects in the field of cancer research are here discussed that describe and validate the application of the event analysis programs. In the first project, mitotic catastrophe (MC) research [Ianzini and Mackey, 1997; Ianzini and Mackey, 1998; reviewed by Ianzini and Mackey, 2007] is enhanced with the addition of live cell imaging to traditional laboratory experiments. The event analysis program is used to describe the yield of normal or abnormal divisions, fusions, and cell death, and to detect patterns of reductive division and depolyploidization in cells undergoing radiation-induced MC. Additionally, the biochemical and molecular data used in conjunction with live cell imaging data are presented to illustrate the usefulness of combining biology and engineering techniques to elucidate pathways involved in cell survival under different detrimental cell conditions. The results show that the timing of depolyploidization in MC cells correlates with increased multipolar divisions, up-regulation of meiosis-specific genes, and the production of mononucleated cell progeny. It was confirmed that mononucleated cells are produced from multipolar divisions and these cells are capable of resuming normal divisions [Ianzini et al., 2009]. The implications for the induction of meiosis as a mechanism of survival after radiation treatment are discussed. In the second project, the effects of long-term fluorescence excitation light exposure are examined through measurements of cell division and cell death. In the field of live cell imaging, probably the most modern and most widely utilized technique is fluorescence detection for intracellular organelles, proteins, and molecules. While the technologies required to label and detect fluorescent molecules in a cell are well developed, they are not idealized for long term measurements as both the probes and excitation light are toxic to the cells [Wang and Nixon, 1978; Bradley and Sharkey, 1977]. From the event analysis data it was determined that fluorescence excitation light is toxic to multiple cell lines observed as the reduction of normal cell division, induction of cell death, and apparent morphological aberrations.


Light toxicity, Live cell imaging, Mitotic catastrophe


xii, 88 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 84-88).


Copyright 2009 Elizabeth Anne Kosmacek