High-content screening and profiling of drug activity in an automated centrosome-duplication assay.

Date Published:

2005 Jan


Maintenance of centrosome number is essential for cell-cycle progression and genomic stability, but investigation of this regulation has been limited by assay difficulty. We present a fully automated image-based centrosome-duplication assay that is accurate and robust enough for both careful cell-biology studies and high-throughput screening, and employ this assay in a series of chemical-genetic studies. We observe that a simple cytometric profiling strategy, which is based on organelle size, groups compounds with similar mechanisms of action; this suggests a simple strategy for excluding compounds that undesirably target such activities as protein synthesis and microtubule dynamics. Screening a library of compounds of known activity, we found unexpected effects on centrosome duplication by a number of drugs, most notably isoform-specific protein kinase C inhibitors and retinoic acid receptor agonists. From a 16 320-member library of uncharacterized small molecules, we identified five potent centrosome-duplication inhibitors that do not target microtubule dynamics or protein synthesis. The analysis methodology reported here is directly relevant to studies of centrosome regulation in a variety of systems and is adaptable to a wide range of other biological problems.