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J Proteome Res. 2014 Feb 7;13(2):362-71. doi: 10.1021/pr401167h. Epub 2014 Jan 24.

Crossword: a fully automated algorithm for the segmentation and quality control of protein microarray images.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology , 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.


Biological assays formatted as microarrays have become a critical tool for the generation of the comprehensive data sets required for systems-level understanding of biological processes. Manual annotation of data extracted from images of microarrays, however, remains a significant bottleneck, particularly for protein microarrays due to the sensitivity of this technology to weak artifact signal. In order to automate the extraction and curation of data from protein microarrays, we describe an algorithm called Crossword that logically combines information from multiple approaches to fully automate microarray segmentation. Automated artifact removal is also accomplished by segregating structured pixels from the background noise using iterative clustering and pixel connectivity. Correlation of the location of structured pixels across image channels is used to identify and remove artifact pixels from the image prior to data extraction. This component improves the accuracy of data sets while reducing the requirement for time-consuming visual inspection of the data. Crossword enables a fully automated protocol that is robust to significant spatial and intensity aberrations. Overall, the average amount of user intervention is reduced by an order of magnitude and the data quality is increased through artifact removal and reduced user variability. The increase in throughput should aid the further implementation of microarray technologies in clinical studies.

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