Special Issue "Innovative Methods to Monitor Single Live Cells"

A special issue of Cells (ISSN 2073-4409).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Myong-Hee Sung

Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Immunology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: systems biology; epigenomics; quantitative live microscopy; transcription
Assistant Guest Editor
Dr. Erik Martin

Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Immunology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA
Interests: quantitative live microscopy; systems biology; cancer biology; aging; therapeutics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In this Special Issue, we are assembling a collection of recent methods that enable non-invasive monitoring of biological processes in single cells. Following the same cell over time and acquiring molecular information without disrupting its physiology is arguably one of the most under-served areas in the current technical toolbox of molecular biology. Although significant strides have been made in the past several years, it is still challenging to learn and employ methods that allow real-time measurements of abundance, localization, or interactions of specific molecules inside cells, particularly if the relevant biological process unfolds over hours or days. The cell systems biology community stands to benefit from rigorous and transparent discussions about successful applications and pitfalls of available techniques. We hope to address the need in this issue with a latest set of advances in live-microscopy approaches and related methods.

Dr. Myong-Hee Sung
Dr. Erik Martin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Cells is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • single cell analysis
  • non-invasive monitoring
  • cell tracking
  • quantitative microscopy
  • real-time assay
  • imaging tools and probes
  • in vivo microscopy
  • automated image analysis software

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Author: Douglas J. Mahoney
Affiliation: Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary
Tentative title: Tracking cell recruitment and behaviour within the tumour microenvironment using advanced intravital imaging approaches

2. Author: Jesse Gell‚Äčes
Affiliation: Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Tentative title: Single-cell and population-level detection and analysis of apoptosis using real-time Annexin V labeling in live-cell imagers

3. Author: Matthew Daniels
Affiliation: Hon Consultant Cardiologist & Principle Investigator, University of Oxford, UK.
Tentative title: Fluorescent, bioluminescent, and optogenetic approaches to study excitable physiology in the single cardiomyocyte.

4. Author: Johanna M. Buschhaus, Kathryn E. Luker, Gary D. Luker
Affiliation: Center for Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology; Department of Biomedical Engineering; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Tentative title: A Caspase-3 Reporter for Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of Single-Cell Apoptosis
Abstract: Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) generates quantitative imaging data based on the time a fluorescent molecule spends in the excited state before returning to the ground state. FLIM measures how a fluorescent molecule interacts with its environment without relying on fluorescence intensity, making this method an ideal approach for single cell imaging in both 2D and 3D environments. We used FLIM to image real-time activation of a reporter for the proteolytic enzyme, caspase-3, as a marker of apoptotic cell death in cell culture assays and a mouse xenograft model of cancer. Cleavage of the caspase-3 target sequence in the imaging reporter alters Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), changing lifetime of the donor fluorophore. We analyzed single cell apoptotic responses to multiple pharmacological and genetic interventions involved in cancer cell death. Within this article, we describe methods for measuring caspase-3 activation by FLIM at single cell resolution in various complex environments.

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