RATIONALE: Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) in combination with CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing provide unparalleled opportunities to study cardiac biology and disease. However, sarcomeres, the fundamental units of myocyte contraction, are immature and nonlinear in hiPSC-CMs, which technically challenge accurate functional interrogation of contractile parameters in beating cells. Furthermore, existing analysis methods are relatively low-throughput, indirectly assess contractility, or only assess well-aligned sarcomeres found in mature cardiac tissues. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to develop an analysis platform that directly, rapidly, and automatically tracks sarcomeres in beating cardiomyocytes. The platform should assess sarcomere content, contraction and relaxation parameters, and beat rate. METHODS AND RESULTS: We developed SarcTrack, a MatLab software that monitors fluorescently tagged sarcomeres in hiPSC-CMs. The algorithm determines sarcomere content, sarcomere length, and returns rates of sarcomere contraction and relaxation. By rapid measurement of hundreds of sarcomeres in each hiPSC-CM, SarcTrack provides large data sets for robust statistical analyses of multiple contractile parameters. We validated SarcTrack by analyzing drug-treated hiPSC-CMs, confirming the contractility effects of compounds that directly activate (CK-1827452) or inhibit (MYK-461) myosin molecules or indirectly alter contractility (verapamil and propranolol). SarcTrack analysis of hiPSC-CMs carrying a heterozygous truncation variant in the myosin-binding protein C ( MYBPC3) gene, which causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, recapitulated seminal disease phenotypes including cardiac hypercontractility and diminished relaxation, abnormalities that normalized with MYK-461 treatment. CONCLUSIONS: SarcTrack provides a direct and efficient method to quantitatively assess sarcomere function. By improving existing contractility analysis methods and overcoming technical challenges associated with functional evaluation of hiPSC-CMs, SarcTrack enhances translational prospects for sarcomere-regulating therapeutics and accelerates interrogation of human cardiac genetic variants.
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MYK-461, cardiomyocyte contractility, cell imaging, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, induced pluripotent stem cells, myosin binding protein-C, sarcomeres