Deep Learning and Computer Vision Strategies for Automated Gene Editing with a Single-Cell Electroporation Platform

Cesar A. Patino, Prithvijit Mukherjee, Vincent Lemaitre, Nibir Pathak, Horacio D. Espinosa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Single-cell delivery platforms like microinjection and nanoprobe electroporation enable unparalleled control over cell manipulation tasks but are generally limited in throughput. Here, we present an automated single-cell electroporation system capable of automatically detecting cells with artificial intelligence (AI) software and delivering exogenous cargoes of different sizes with uniform dosage. We implemented a fully convolutional network (FCN) architecture to precisely locate the nuclei and cytosol of six cell types with various shapes and sizes, using phase contrast microscopy. Nuclear staining or reporter fluorescence was used along with phase contrast images of cells within the same field of view to facilitate the manual annotation process. Furthermore, we leveraged the near-human inference capabilities of the FCN network in detecting stained nuclei to automatically generate ground-truth labels of thousands of cells within seconds, and observed no statistically significant difference in performance compared to training with manual annotations. The average detection sensitivity and precision of the FCN network were 95±1.7% and 90±1.8%, respectively, outperforming a traditional image-processing algorithm (72±7.2% and 72±5.5%) used for comparison. To test the platform, we delivered fluorescent-labeled proteins into adhered cells and measured a delivery efficiency of 90%. As a demonstration, we used the automated single-cell electroporation platform to deliver Cas9–guide RNA (gRNA) complexes into an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line to knock out a green fluorescent protein–encoding gene in a population of ~200 cells. The results demonstrate that automated single-cell delivery is a useful cell manipulation tool for applications that demand throughput, control, and precision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
JournalSLAS Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • CRISPR-Cas9
  • computer vision
  • deep learning
  • electroporation
  • single-cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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