Intercellular Communication Induces Glycolytic Synchronisation Waves published in PNAS

Intercellular communication induces glycolytic synchronization waves between individually oscillating cells

Intercellular communication induces glycolytic synchronization waves between individually oscillating cells
Martin Mojica-Benavides, David D. van Niekerk, Mite Mijalkov, Jacky L. Snoep, Bernhard Mehlig, Giovanni Volpe, Caroline B. Adiels & Mattias Goksör
PNAS 118(6), e2010075118 (2021)
doi: 10.1073/pnas.2010075118
arXiv: 1909.05187

Metabolic oscillations in single cells underlie the mechanisms behind cell synchronization and cell-cell communication. For example, glycolytic oscillations mediated by biochemical communication between cells may synchronize the pulsatile insulin secretion by pancreatic tissue, and a link between glycolytic synchronization anomalies and type-2 diabetes has been hypotesized. Cultures of yeast cells have provided an ideal model system to study synchronization and propagation waves of glycolytic oscillations in large populations. However, the mechanism by which synchronization occurs at individual cell-cell level and overcome local chemical concentrations and heterogenic biological clocks, is still an open question because of experimental limitations in sensitive and specific handling of single cells. Here, we show how the coupling of intercellular diffusion with the phase regulation of individual oscillating cells induce glycolytic synchronization waves. We directly measure the single-cell metabolic responses from yeast cells in a microfluidic environment and characterize a discretized cell-cell communication using graph theory. We corroborate our findings with simulations based on a kinetic detailed model for individual yeast cells. These findings can provide insight into the roles cellular synchronization play in biomedical applications, such as insulin secretion regulation at the cellular level.

The environment topography alters the transition from single-cell populations to multicellular structures in Myxococcus xanthus on bioRxiv

M. xanthus cell-cell and cell-particle local interactions during cellular aggregation.
The environment topography alters the transition from single-cell populations to multicellular structures in Myxococcus xanthus
Karla C. Hernández Ramos, Edna Rodríguez-Sánchez, Juan Antonio Arias del Angel, Alejandro V. Arzola, Mariana Benítez, Ana E. Escalante, Alessio Franci, Giovanni Volpe, Natsuko Rivera-Yoshida
doi: 10.1101/2021.01.27.428527

The social soil-dwelling bacteria Myxococcus xanthus can form multicellular structures, known as fruiting bodies. Experiments in homogeneous environments have shown that this process is affected by the physico-chemical properties of the substrate, but they have largely neglected the role of complex topographies. We experimentally demonstrate that the topography alters single-cell motility and multicellular organization in M. xanthus. In topographies realized by randomly placing silica particles over agar plates, we observe that the cells’ interaction with particles drastically modifies the dynamics of cellular aggregation, leading to changes in the number, size and shape of the fruiting bodies, and even to arresting their formation in certain conditions. We further explore this type of cell-particle interaction in a minimal computational model. These results provide fundamental insights into how the environment topography influences the emergence of complex multicellular structures from single cells, which is a fundamental problem of biological, ecological and medical relevance.

Optical Tweezers: A Comprehensive Tutorial from Calibration to Applications accepted on Advances in Optics and Photonics

Schematic of a bistable potential generated with a double-beam optical tweezers.

Optical Tweezers: A Comprehensive Tutorial from Calibration to Applications
Jan Gieseler, Juan Ruben Gomez-Solano, Alessandro Magazzù, Isaac Pérez Castillo, Laura Pérez García, Marta Gironella-Torrent, Xavier Viader-Godoy, Felix Ritort, Giuseppe Pesce, Alejandro V. Arzola, Karen Volke-Sepulveda & Giovanni Volpe
Advances in Optics and Photonics, (2021)
arXiv: 2004.05246

Since their invention in 1986 by Arthur Ashkin and colleagues, optical tweezers have become an essential tool in several fields of physics, spectroscopy, biology, nanotechnology, and thermodynamics. In this Tutorial, we provide a primer on how to calibrate optical tweezers and how to use them for advanced applications. After a brief general introduction on optical tweezers, we focus on describing and comparing the various available calibration techniques. Then, we discuss some cutting-edge applications of optical tweezers in a liquid medium, namely to study single-molecule and single-cell mechanics, microrheology, colloidal interactions, statistical physics, and transport phenomena. Finally, we consider optical tweezers in vacuum, where the absence of a viscous medium offers vastly different dynamics and presents new challenges. We conclude with some perspectives for the field and the future application of optical tweezers. This Tutorial provides both a step-by-step guide ideal for non-specialists entering the field and a comprehensive manual of advanced techniques useful for expert practitioners. All the examples are complemented by the sample data and software necessary to reproduce them.

Fast and Accurate Nanoparticle Characterization Using Deep-Learning-Enhanced Off-Axis Holography published in ACS Nano

Phase and amplitude signals from representative particles for testing the performance of the Deep-learning approach

Fast and Accurate Nanoparticle Characterization Using Deep-Learning-Enhanced Off-Axis Holography
Benjamin Midtvedt, Erik Olsén, Fredrik Eklund, Fredrik Höök, Caroline Beck Adiels, Giovanni Volpe, Daniel Midtvedt
ACS Nano, XXXX, XXX, XXX-XXX (2021)
doi: 10.1021/acsnano.0c06902
arXiv: 2006.11154

The characterisation of the physical properties of nanoparticles in their native environment plays a central role in a wide range of fields, from nanoparticle-enhanced drug delivery to environmental nanopollution assessment. Standard optical approaches require long trajectories of nanoparticles dispersed in a medium with known viscosity to characterise their diffusion constant and, thus, their size. However, often only short trajectories are available, while the medium viscosity is unknown, e.g., in most biomedical applications. In this work, we demonstrate a label-free method to quantify size and refractive index of individual subwavelength particles using two orders of magnitude shorter trajectories than required by standard methods, and without assumptions about the physicochemical properties of the medium. We achieve this by developing a weighted average convolutional neural network to analyse the holographic images of the particles. As a proof of principle, we distinguish and quantify size and refractive index of silica and polystyrene particles without prior knowledge of solute viscosity or refractive index. As an example of an application beyond the state of the art, we demonstrate how this technique can monitor the aggregation of polystyrene nanoparticles, revealing the time-resolved dynamics of the monomer number and fractal dimension of individual subwavelength aggregates. This technique opens new possibilities for nanoparticle characterisation with a broad range of applications from biomedicine to environmental monitoring.

Extracting quantitative biological information from brightfield cell images using deep learning on ArXiv

Virtually-stained generated image for lipid-droplet.
Extracting quantitative biological information from brightfield cell images using deep learning
Saga Helgadottir, Benjamin Midtvedt, Jesús Pineda, Alan Sabirsh, Caroline B. Adiels, Stefano Romeo, Daniel Midtvedt, Giovanni Volpe
arXiv: 2012.12986

Quantitative analysis of cell structures is essential for biomedical and pharmaceutical research. The standard imaging approach relies on fluorescence microscopy, where cell structures of interest are labeled by chemical staining techniques. However, these techniques are often invasive and sometimes even toxic to the cells, in addition to being time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive. Here, we introduce an alternative deep-learning-powered approach based on the analysis of brightfield images by a conditional generative adversarial neural network (cGAN). We show that this approach can extract information from the brightfield images to generate virtually-stained images, which can be used in subsequent downstream quantitative analyses of cell structures. Specifically, we train a cGAN to virtually stain lipid droplets, cytoplasm, and nuclei using brightfield images of human stem-cell-derived fat cells (adipocytes), which are of particular interest for nanomedicine and vaccine development. Subsequently, we use these virtually-stained images to extract quantitative measures about these cell structures. Generating virtually-stained fluorescence images is less invasive, less expensive, and more reproducible than standard chemical staining; furthermore, it frees up the fluorescence microscopy channels for other analytical probes, thus increasing the amount of information that can be extracted from each cell.

Microscopic Metavehicles Powered and Steered by Embedded Optical Metasurfaces on ArXiv

Microscopic Metavehicles Powered and Steered by Embedded Optical Metasurfaces
Daniel Andrén, Denis G. Baranov, Steven Jones, Giovanni Volpe, Ruggero Verre, Mikael Käll
arXiv: 2012.10205

Nanostructured dielectric metasurfaces offer unprecedented opportunities to manipulate light by imprinting an arbitrary phase-gradient on an impinging wavefront. This has resulted in the realization of a range of flat analogs to classical optical components like lenses, waveplates and axicons. However, the change in linear and angular optical momentum associated with phase manipulation also results in previously unexploited forces acting on the metasurface itself. Here, we show that these optomechanical effects can be utilized to construct optical metavehicles – microscopic particles that can travel long distances under low-power plane-wave illumination while being steered through the polarization of the incident light. We demonstrate movement in complex patterns, self-correcting motion, and an application as transport vehicles for microscopic cargo, including unicellular organisms. The abundance of possible optical metasurfaces attests to the prospect of developing a wide variety of metavehicles with specialized functional behavior.

Improving epidemic testing and containment strategies using machine learning on ArXiv

Comparison of different evolution regimes of disease spreading: free evolution (bottom left half) vs network strategy (top right half).
Improving epidemic testing and containment strategies using machine learning
Laura Natali, Saga Helgadottir, Onofrio M. Maragò, Giovanni Volpe
arXiv: 2011.11717

Containment of epidemic outbreaks entails great societal and economic costs. Cost-effective containment strategies rely on efficiently identifying infected individuals, making the best possible use of the available testing resources. Therefore, quickly identifying the optimal testing strategy is of critical importance. Here, we demonstrate that machine learning can be used to identify which individuals are most beneficial to test, automatically and dynamically adapting the testing strategy to the characteristics of the disease outbreak. Specifically, we simulate an outbreak using the archetypal susceptible-infectious-recovered (SIR) model and we use data about the first confirmed cases to train a neural network that learns to make predictions about the rest of the population. Using these prediction, we manage to contain the outbreak more effectively and more quickly than with standard approaches. Furthermore, we demonstrate how this method can be used also when there is a possibility of reinfection (SIRS model) to efficiently eradicate an endemic disease.

Enhanced force-field calibration via machine learning published in Applied Physics Reviews

Representation of a particle in a force field
Enhanced force-field calibration via machine learning
Aykut Argun, Tobias Thalheim, Stefano Bo, Frank Cichos, Giovanni Volpe
Applied Physics Reviews 7, 041404 (2020)
doi: 10.1063/5.0019105
arXiv: 2006.08963

The influence of microscopic force fields on the motion of Brownian particles plays a fundamental role in a broad range of fields, including soft matter, biophysics, and active matter. Often, the experimental calibration of these force fields relies on the analysis of the trajectories of these Brownian particles. However, such an analysis is not always straightforward, especially if the underlying force fields are non-conservative or time-varying, driving the system out of thermodynamic equilibrium. Here, we introduce a toolbox to calibrate microscopic force fields by analyzing the trajectories of a Brownian particle using machine learning, namely recurrent neural networks. We demonstrate that this machine-learning approach outperforms standard methods when characterizing the force fields generated by harmonic potentials if the available data are limited. More importantly, it provides a tool to calibrate force fields in situations for which there are no standard methods, such as non-conservative and time-varying force fields. In order to make this method readily available for other users, we provide a Python software package named DeepCalib, which can be easily personalized and optimized for specific applications.

Dendritic spines are lost in clusters in patients with Alzheimer’s disease on biorXiv

Combined confocal microscopy picture showing a neuron with a soma free of PHF-tau.
Dendritic spines are lost in clusters in patients with Alzheimer’s disease
Mite Mijalkov, Giovanni Volpe, Isabel Fernaud-Espinosa, Javier DeFelipe, Joana B. Pereira, Paula Merino-Serrais
doi: 10.1101/2020.10.20.346718

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a deterioration of neuronal connectivity. The pathological accumulation of tau protein in neurons is one of the hallmarks of AD and has been connected to the loss of dendritic spines of pyramidal cells, which are the major targets of cortical excitatory synapses and key elements in memory storage. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying the loss of dendritic spines in patients with AD are still unclear. Here, comparing dendrites with and without tau pathology of AD patients, we show that the presence of tau pathology determines the loss of dendritic spines in blocks, ruling out alternative models where spine loss occurs randomly. Since memory storage has been associated with synaptic clusters, the present results provide a new insight into the mechanisms by which tau drives synaptic damage in AD, paving the way to memory deficits by altering spine organization.

Quantitative Digital Microscopy with Deep Learning on ArXiv

Particle tracking and characterization in terms of radius and refractive index.

Quantitative Digital Microscopy with Deep Learning
Benjamin Midtvedt, Saga Helgadottir, Aykut Argun, Jesús Pineda, Daniel Midtvedt, Giovanni Volpe
arXiv: 2010.08260

Video microscopy has a long history of providing insights and breakthroughs for a broad range of disciplines, from physics to biology. Image analysis to extract quantitative information from video microscopy data has traditionally relied on algorithmic approaches, which are often difficult to implement, time consuming, and computationally expensive. Recently, alternative data-driven approaches using deep learning have greatly improved quantitative digital microscopy, potentially offering automatized, accurate, and fast image analysis. However, the combination of deep learning and video microscopy remains underutilized primarily due to the steep learning curve involved in developing custom deep-learning solutions. To overcome this issue, we introduce a software, DeepTrack 2.0, to design, train and validate deep-learning solutions for digital microscopy. We use it to exemplify how deep learning can be employed for a broad range of applications, from particle localization, tracking and characterization to cell counting and classification. Thanks to its user-friendly graphical interface, DeepTrack 2.0 can be easily customized for user-specific applications, and, thanks to its open-source object-oriented programming, it can be easily expanded to add features and functionalities, potentially introducing deep-learning-enhanced video microscopy to a far wider audience.