Automated screening by 3D light-sheet microscopy with high spatial and temporal resolution reveals mitotic phenotypes
3D cell cultures enable the in vitro study of dynamic biological processes such as the cell cycle, but their use in high-throughput screens remains impractical with conventional fluorescent microscopy. Here, we present a screening workflow for the automated evaluation of mitotic phenotypes in 3D cell cultures by light-sheet microscopy. After sample preparation by a liquid handling robot, three-dimensional cell spheroids are imaged for 24 hours in toto with a dual inverted selective plane illumination (diSPIM) microscope with a much improved signal-to-noise ratio, higher imaging speed, isotropic resolution and reduced light exposure compared to a spinning disc confocal microscope. A dedicated high-content image processing pipeline implements convolutional neural network based phenotype classification. We illustrate the potential of our approach by siRNA knock-down and epigenetic modification of 28 mitotic target genes for assessing their phenotypic role in mitosis. By rendering light-sheet microscopy operational for high-throughput screening applications, this workflow enables target gene characterization or drug candidate evaluation in tissue-like 3D cell culture models.
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