Network signatures of nuclear and cytoplasmic density alterations in a model of pre and postmetastatic colorectal cancer

Dhwanil Damania, Hariharan Subramanian, Vadim Backman, Eric C. Anderson, Melissa H. Wong, Owen J.T. McCarty, Kevin G. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Cells contributing to the pathogenesis of cancer possess cytoplasmic and nuclear structural alterations that accompany their aberrant genetic, epigenetic, and molecular perturbations. Although it is known that architectural changes in primary and metastatic tumor cells can be quantified through variations in cellular density at the nanometer and micrometer spatial scales, the interdependent relationships among nuclear and cytoplasmic density as a function of tumorigenic potential has not been thoroughly investigated. We present a combined optical approach utilizing quantitative phase microscopy and partial wave spectroscopic microscopy to perform parallel structural characterizations of cellular architecture. Using the isogenic SW480 and SW620 cell lines as a model of pre and postmetastatic transition in colorectal cancer, we demonstrate that nuclear and cytoplasmic nanoscale disorder, micron-scale dry mass content, mean dry mass density, and shape metrics of the dry mass density histogram are uniquely correlated within and across different cellular compartments for a given cell type. The correlations of these physical parameters can be interpreted as networks whose nodal importance and level of connection independence differ according to disease stage. This work demonstrates how optically derived biophysical parameters are linked within and across different cellular compartments during the architectural orchestration of the metastatic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number016016
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Cancer cell lines
  • Cell density
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Disorder strength
  • Label-free optical microscopy
  • Partial wave spectroscopic microscopy
  • Quantitative phase microscopy
  • Subcellular architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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