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A versatile multivariate image analysis pipeline reveals features of Xenopus extract spindles


Imaging datasets are rich in quantitative information. However, few cell biologists possess the tools necessary to analyze them. Here, we present a large dataset of Xenopusextract spindle images together with an analysis pipeline designed to assess spindle morphology across a range of experimental conditions. Our analysis of different spindle types illustrates how kinetochore microtubules amplify spindle microtubule density. Extract mixing experiments reveal that some spindle features titrate, while others undergo switch-like transitions, and multivariate analysis shows the pleiotropic morphological effects of modulating the levels of TPX2, a key spindle assembly factor. We also apply our pipeline to analyze nuclear morphology in human cell culture, showing the general utility of the segmentation approach. Our analyses provide new insight into the diversity of spindle types and suggest areas for future study. The approaches outlined can be applied by other researchers studying spindle morphology and adapted with minimal modification to other experimental systems.

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