Time-lapse microscopy is a powerful tool to investigate cellular and developmental dynamics. In Drosophila melanogaster, it can be used to study division cycles in embryogenesis. To obtain quantitative information from 3D time-lapse data and track proliferating nuclei from the syncytial stage until gastrulation, we developed an image analysis pipeline consisting of nuclear segmentation, tracking, annotation and quantification. Image analysis of maternal-haploid (mh) embryos revealed that a fraction of haploid syncytial nuclei fused to give rise to nuclei of higher ploidy (2n, 3n, 4n). Moreover, nuclear densities in mh embryos at the mid-blastula transition varied over threefold. By tracking synchronized nuclei of different karyotypes side-by-side, we show that DNA content determines nuclear growth rate and size in early, while the nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio constrains nuclear growth during late interphase. mh encodes the Drosophila ortholog of human Spartan, a protein involved in DNA damage tolerance. To explore the link between mh and chromosome instability, we fluorescently tagged Mh protein to study its subcellular localization. We show Mh-mKO2 localizes to nuclear speckles that increase in numbers as nuclei expand in interphase. In summary, quantitative microscopy can provide new insights into well-studied genes and biological processes.
- Received September 27, 2016.
- Accepted January 11, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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