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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Mar 20;109(12):4609-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1200305109. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

Versatile pathway-centric approach based on high-throughput sequencing to anticancer drug discovery.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


The advent of powerful genomics technologies has uncovered many fundamental aspects of biology, including the mechanisms of cancer; however, it has not been appropriately matched by the development of global approaches to discover new medicines against human diseases. Here we describe a unique high-throughput screening strategy by high-throughput sequencing, referred to as HTS(2), to meet this challenge. This technology enables large-scale and quantitative analysis of gene matrices associated with specific disease phenotypes, therefore allowing screening for small molecules that can specifically intervene with disease-linked gene-expression events. By initially applying this multitarget strategy to the pressing problem of hormone-refractory prostate cancer, which tends to be accelerated by the current antiandrogen therapy, we identify Peruvoside, a cardiac glycoside, which can potently inhibit both androgen-sensitive and -resistant prostate cancer cells without triggering severe cytotoxicity. We further show that, despite transcriptional reprogramming in prostate cancer cells at different disease stages, the compound can effectively block androgen receptor-dependent gene expression by inducing rapid androgen receptor degradation via the proteasome pathway. These findings establish a genomics-based phenotypic screening approach capable of quickly connecting pathways of phenotypic response to the molecular mechanism of drug action, thus offering a unique pathway-centric strategy for drug discovery.

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