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Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Oct;19(10):940-5.

Use of isogenic human cancer cells for high-throughput screening and drug discovery.

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.


Cell-based screening for novel tumor-specific drugs has been compromised by the lack of appropriate control cells. We describe a strategy for drug screening based on isogenic human cancer cell lines in which key tumorigenic genes have been deleted by targeted homologous recombination. As a test case, a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) expression vector was introduced into the colon cancer cell line DLD-1, and a blue fluorescent protein (BFP) expression vector was introduced into an isogenic derivative in which the mutant K-Ras allele had been deleted. Co-culture of both cell lines allowed facile screening for compounds with selective toxicity toward the mutant Ras genotype. Among 30,000 compounds screened, a novel cytidine nucleoside analog was identified that displayed selective activity in vitro and inhibited tumor xenografts containing mutant Ras. The present data demonstrate a broadly applicable approach for mining therapeutic agents targeted to the specific genetic alterations responsible for cancer development.

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