Software for automated analysis of in-vitro motility gliding assays
Python Shell
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.

FAST v1.0: Fast Automated Spud Trekker Manual

Please cite Aksel T, Yu EC, Sutton S, Ruppel KM, Spudich JA. Cell Reports. 2015. Ensemble force changes that result from human cardiac myosin mutations and a small molecule effector.

examples folder containing all example movies can be downloaded from

Tural Aksel

Last updated on 2016-03-26

Installation on Ubuntu

  • IMPORTANT: If you previously installed fast following the old instructions, before proceeding delete the FAST codes on your system typing the lines below.

    cd /usr/bin
    sudo rm -f fast lima stack2tifs
  • Install numpy, matplotlib, scipy, texlive, scikit-image. To install all the necessary packages, type the line below in the terminal.

    sudo apt-get install python-numpy python-scipy python-matplotlib ipython ipython-notebook python-pandas python-sympy python-nose texlive libav-tools python-skimage python-opencv ffmpeg
  • To display fonts properly in FAST output, install MS fonts.

    sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
  • After installing MD fonts, remove font cache file for matplotlib in your home directory.

    rm -f ~/.cache/matplotlib/fontList.cache
  • Move FAST_linux directory to the desired location. After you move the folder, on terminal change move to FAST_linux and run the installation script.

    chmod +x
  • After running the script don't move your FAST directory to some other location. If you move to another location, run the script in the new directory.

Preparation of movie files

  • fast only analyzes movie tif files recorded using micro-manager. For movies, recorded using other software, first save the movie as tiff stacks and convert the stacks to micro-manager output format using stack2tiffs.

  • DIRECTORY is the top directory in which tiff stacks are stored.

  • FRAMERATE is the frame rate of the movies in frame per second (Default: 1). Process movies with different frame rates separately.

  • SIZELOWERBOUND is the lower bound for the size (Mbytes) of the tiff stacks to be converted into individual tiffs (Default: 6). Only tiffstacks bigger in size than SIZELOWERBOUND are processed.

Analysis of movies using FAST

  • Although not necessary, it is recommended to organize the movies to be analyzed in a hierarchical order.

    • LEVEL1 (e.g. date)
      • LEVEL2 (e.g. slide number)
        • LEVEL3 (e.g. experimental condition)
          • LEVEL4 (e.g. replicates)
  • All fast needs is the top directory the movie folders are located at.

    fast -d LEVEL1
  • FAST first finds the lowest LEVEL directories that have movie folders under LEVEL1, and analyzes them in order. The lowest level movies (folders) under the same directory are treated as replicates. The results from replicates are combined to determine the average results. Therefore, it is important that the replicates have identical frame rates. Please check example movie files in the examples/unloaded_motility directory.

  • FAST accepts various parameters for comprehensive analysis of filament velocities and for display of results.

    • -n WINDOWSIZE : Number of consecutive frames for velocity averaging (Default:5).
    • -p PATHLENGTH : Minimum length for the tracked filament paths in the analysis (Default:5).
    • -pt TOLERANCE : Percent tolerance parameter to filter fluctuating velocities (Default:None).
    • -cl COLOR: Color of the data points in velocity scatter plot (Default:blue).
    • -fx FUNCTION: Function to be fitted to maximal velocity data. exp for single exponential decay, uyeda for Uyeda equation and none for no curve fitting (Default:none).
    • -px PIXEL: Pixel size in nm (Default:80.65).
    • -ymax YMAX: Maximum velocity in nm/s for the scatter plot (Default:1500).
    • -xmax XMAX: Maximum filament length in nm for the scatter plot (Default:10000).
    • -mv MV: Maximum allowed distance in nm between adjacent frames for a filament (Default:2016.25)
  • To estimate maximum velocities TOP5% and PLATEAU, I recommend the following parameter set.

    • fast -n 5 -p 10 -pt 20 -d LEVEL1
  • For loaded motility experiments, I recommend the following parameter set.

    • fast -n 5 -p 10 -d LEVEL1
  • Analysis results are stored in outputs folder in the path FAST is executed. Analysis results with different parameter sets are stored in different folders. For example, the results for LEVEL1 analyzed using the parameters -n 5 -p 10 and -pt 20 are stored in outputs/LEVEL1_n_5_p_10_pt_20. Combined results from replicates at the lowest level (LEVEL4) are stored in a subfolder called combined.

  • To analyze the movies with a new parameter set, use -r flag for speedy analysis.

    • fast -r -n 10 -p 10 -pt 20 -d LEVEL1
  • To force re-analyze the movies by processing through individual images, use -f flag.

    • fast -f -n 10 -p 10 -pt 20 -d LEVEL1
  • To make tracking movies, use -m flag.

    • fast -m -n 10 -p 10 -pt 20 -d LEVEL1
  • To abort execution, press CTRL+C on terminal.

  • Please check the examples in examples/unloaded_motility to get familiar with stack2tiffs and fast.

Result descriptions

  • fast plots velocities as png files and prints velocity data as text files. Complete list of unfiltered velocity points are saved with the extension *_full_length_velocity.txt. Maximum path velocities, which are colored in the scatter plot, are saved with the extension *_max_length_velocity.txt. The plots are saved with the extension *_length_velocity.png. Combined results are saved in combined folder in outputs directory.

  • First column in *_length_velocity.txt files is the filament length in nm. Second column is the mean velocity over the n frame window (see above -n WINDOWSIZE). Third column is the standard deviation of velocities within n frame window. Fourth column is the length of the track from which the velocity is measured.

  • For description of *_length_velocity.png and the algorithms of fast, see Aksel et al. 2015

  • *_paths_2D.png shows the tracks for each filament ad the number is the average velocity for each filament track in nm/s.

  • Tracking movies are saved as *_filament_tracks.avi if -m is used in fast execution. Please remember that movies will be generated, if only the packages required for movie generation are installed.

  • In addition, mean and standard error of mean (SEM) for the velocity parameters are stored in MEAN_values.txt and SEM_values.txt in combined folder.

Loaded in vitro motility analysis

  • FAST is designed for high throughput analysis of loaded in vitro motility movies. For the experimental setup and the details of the loaded motility analysis please read through our paper.
  • To extract the "force" parameter from a set of data collected at different utrophin (or any other actin binding protein) concentrations, I wrote a python script called lima. LIMA stands for Loaded In vitro Motility Analysis.

  • To use lima for loaded motility analysis, user has to name the movie files in a specific format.

  • LEVEL3 (described above) should be minimally named in the following way PROTEINNAME_XnM_utr. X is the utrophin concentration. For example, for a movie recorded at 0.5 nM utrophin for a myosin called alpha, I would name the LEVEL3 folder as alpha_0.5nM_utr. For LEVEL3 and hierarchical organization of the movie folders, see above. For an example set of loaded motility data, check under examples/loaded_motility directory.

  • To run lima, on a set of movies processed by fast, first go to outputs directory where the results for the complete data set are stored. For example, if user is in examples/loaded_motility, enter in terminal cd outputs to change directory to outputs.

  • To perform a loaded motility analysis for a FOLDER in outputs directory, enter in terminal,

    • lima -d FOLDER
  • Analysis results will be stored in FOLDER/combined/lima.

  • For the analysis of an example data set, check examples/loaded_motility.

    • First, analyze the movies:
      • fast -r -d 032714
    • Move to outputs folder:
      • cd outputs
    • Process the only directory in outputs:
      • lima -d 032714__pt_none__n_5__ymax_1500__p_5__fx_none
    • Check the analysis results under
      • 032714__pt_none__n_5__ymax_1500__p_5__fx_none/combined/lima.
  • For different analysis options, enter lima -h.


  • For questions and to report bugs, please contact me by turalaksel[at]