MotivationMorphology of the cell nucleus has been used as a key indicator of disease state and prognosis, but typically without quantitative rigor. It is also not well understood how nuclear morphology varies with time across different genetic backgrounds in healthy cells. To help answer these questions we measured the size and shape of nuclei in cell-cycle-synchronized primary human fibroblasts from 6 different individuals at 32 time points over a 75 hour period.
ResultsThe nucleus was modeled as an ellipsoid and its dynamics analyzed. Shape and volume changed significantly over this time. Two prominent frequencies were found in the 6 individuals: a 17 hour period consistent with the cell cycle and a 26 hour period. Our findings suggest that the shape of the nucleus changes over time and thus any time-invariant shape property may provide a misleading characterization of cellular populations at different phases of the cell cycle. The proposed methodology provides a general method to analyze morphological change using multiple time points even for non-live-cell experiments.