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Anal Biochem. 1992 May 1;202(2):275-85.

Computer-assisted tracking of actin filament motility.

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Department of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Vermont, Burlington 05405.


In vitro motility assays, in which fluorescently labeled actin filaments are propelled by myosin molecules adhered to a glass coverslip, require that actin filament velocity be determined. We have developed a computer-assisted filament tracking system that reduced the analysis time, minimized investigator bias, and provided greater accuracy in locating actin filaments in video images. The tracking routine successfully tracked filaments under experimental conditions where filament density, size, and extent of photobleaching varied dramatically. Videotaped images of actin filament motility were digitized and processed to enhance filament image contrast relative to background. Once processed, filament images were cross correlated between frames and a filament path was determined. The changes in filament centroid or center position between video frames were then used to calculate filament velocity. The tracking routine performance was evaluated and the sources of noise that contributed to errors in velocity were identified and quantified. Errors originated in algorithms for filament centroid determination and in the choice of sampling interval between video frames. With knowledge of these error sources, the investigator can maximize the accuracy of the velocity calculation through access to user-definable computer program parameters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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