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EpiTools: an open-source image analysis toolkit for quantifying epithelial growth dynamics

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journal contribution
posted on 05.08.2020 by Davide Heller, Andreas Hoppe, Simon Restrepo, Lorenzo Gatti, Alexander L Tournier, Nicolas Tapon, Konrad Basler, Yanlan Mao
Epithelia grow and undergo extensive rearrangements to achieve their final size and shape. Imaging the dynamics of tissue growth and morphogenesis is now possible with advances in time-lapse microscopy, but a true understanding of their complexities is limited by automated image analysis tools to extract quantitative data. To overcome such limitations, we have designed a new open-source image analysis toolkit called EpiTools. It provides user-friendly graphical user interfaces for accurately segmenting and tracking the contours of cell membrane signals obtained from 4D confocal imaging. It is designed for a broad audience, especially biologists with no computer-science background. Quantitative data extraction is integrated into a larger bioimaging platform, Icy, to increase the visibility and usability of our tools. We demonstrate the usefulness of EpiTools by analyzing Drosophila wing imaginal disc growth, revealing previously overlooked properties of this dynamic tissue, such as the patterns of cellular rearrangements.