Exploration, Registration, and Analysis of High-Throughput 3D Microscopy Data from the Knife-Edge Scanning Microscope
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Advances in high-throughput, high-volume microscopy techniques have enabled the acquisition of extremely detailed anatomical structures on human or animal organs. The Knife-Edge Scanning Microscope (KESM) is one of the first instruments to produce sub-micrometer resolution ( ~1 ?m^(3)) data from whole small animal brains. We successfully imaged, using the KESM, entire mouse brains stained with Golgi (neuronal morphology), India ink (vascular network), and Nissl (soma distribution). Our data sets fill the gap of most existing data sets which have only partial organ coverage or have orders of magnitude lower resolution. However, even though we have such unprecedented data sets, we still do not have a suitable informatics platform to visualize and quantitatively analyze the data sets. This dissertation is designed to address three key gaps: (1) due to the large volume (several tera voxels) and the multiscale nature, visualization alone is a huge challenge, let alone quantitative connectivity analysis; (2) the size of the uncompressed KESM data exceeds a few terabytes and to compare and combine with other data sets from different imaging modalities, the KESM data must be registered to a standard coordinate space; and (3) quantitative analysis that seeks to count every neuron in our massive, growing, and sparsely labeled data is a serious challenge. The goals of my dissertation are as follows: (1) develop an online neuro-informatics framework for efficient visualization and analysis of the multiscale KESM data sets, (2) develop a robust landmark-based 3D registration method for mapping the KESM Nissl-stained entire mouse data into the Waxholm Space (a canonical coordinate system for the mouse brain), and (3) develop a scalable, incremental learning algorithm for cell detection in high-resolution KESM Nissl data. For the web-based neuroinformatics framework, I prepared multi-scale data sets at different zoom levels from the original data sets. And then I extended Google Maps API to develop atlas features such as scale bars, panel browsing, and transparent overlay for 3D rendering. Next, I adapted the OpenLayers API, which is a free mapping and layering API supporting similar functionality as the Google Maps API. Furthermore, I prepared multi-scale data sets in vector-graphics to improve page loading time by reducing the file size. To better appreciate the full 3D morphology of the objects embedded in the data volumes, I developed a WebGL-based approach that complements the web-based framework for interactive viewing. For the registration work, I adapted and customized a stable 2D rigid deformation method to map our data sets to the Waxholm Space. For the analysis of neuronal distribution, I designed and implemented a scalable, effective quantitative analysis method using supervised learning. I utilized Principal Components Analysis (PCA) in a supervised manner and implemented the algorithm using MapReduce parallelization. I expect my frameworks to enable effective exploration and analysis of our KESM data sets. In addition, I expect my approaches to be broadly applicable to the analysis of other high-throughput medical imaging data.