Mon. March 14, 12:54 p.m. – 1:06 p.m. CDT
McCormick Place W-176C
The development of an organism is characterized by a series of cellular fate transitions where cells become increasingly specialized. For many animal cells, fate transitions are accompanied by shape changes and there are strong indications of coupling between cell shape and fate. Here, we present a pipeline to quantify and analyse cell shapes as cells undergo the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We then apply our analysis pipeline to investigate the coupling between cell shape and fate during the EMT of MDCK cells. We find that cell morphology is closely associated with their state: While epithelial cells display spherical shapes, mesenchymal cells undergo spreading. After defining the distinct cellular shapes corresponding to cell states, we study how exactly the morphological features of a cell evolve during EMT. To this aim, we investigate cell trajectories of morphological features in a low-dimensional space and describe the evolution of cellular features as a stochastic process. By integrating morphometric analysis into studies of cell fate transitions, we aim to better understand the crosstalk between cell fate and shape.