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Automated tracking of gene expression in individual cells and cell compartments

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Glyn NelsonORCiD


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Many intracellular signal transduction processes involve the reversible translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus of transcription factors. The advent of fluorescently tagged protein derivatives has revolutionized cell biology, such that it is now possible to follow the location of such protein molecules in individual cells in real time. However, the quantitative analysis of the location of such proteins in microscopic images is very time consuming. We describe CellTracker, a software tool designed for the automated measurement of the cellular location and intensity of fluorescently tagged proteins. CellTracker runs in the MS Windows environment, is freely available (at, and combines automated cell tracking methods with powerful image-processing algorithms that are optimized for these applications. When tested in an application involving the nuclear transcription factor NF-kappa B, CellTracker is competitive in accuracy with the manual human analysis of such images but is more than 20 times faster, even on a small task where human fatigue is not an issue. This will lead to substantial benefits for time-lapse-based high-content screening.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shen H, Nelson G, Nelson DE, Kennedy S, Spiller DG, Griffiths T, Paton N, Oliver SG, White MRH, Kell DB

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Year: 2006

Volume: 3

Issue: 11

Pages: 787-794

Print publication date: 22/12/2006

ISSN (print): 1742-5689

ISSN (electronic): 1742-5662

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/​rsif.2006.0137

Notes: 114SN Times Cited:5 Cited References Count:27


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