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Sci Signal. 2012 May 15;5(224):rs4. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2002612.

MicroSCALE screening reveals genetic modifiers of therapeutic response in melanoma.

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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


Cell microarrays are a promising tool for performing large-scale functional genomic screening in mammalian cells at reasonable cost, but owing to technical limitations they have been restricted for use with a narrow range of cell lines and short-term assays. Here, we describe MicroSCALE (Microarrays of Spatially Confined Adhesive Lentiviral Features), a cell microarray-based platform that enables application of this technology to a wide range of cell types and longer-term assays. We used MicroSCALE to uncover kinases that when overexpressed partially desensitized B-RAFV600E-mutant melanoma cells to inhibitors of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK) RAF, the MAPKKs MEK1 and 2 (MEK1/2, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 and 2), mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), or PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase). These screens indicated that cells treated with inhibitors acting through common mechanisms were affected by a similar profile of overexpressed proteins. In contrast, screens involving inhibitors acting through distinct mechanisms yielded unique profiles, a finding that has potential relevance for small-molecule target identification and combination drugging studies. Further, by integrating large-scale functional screening results with cancer cell line gene expression and pharmacological sensitivity data, we validated the nuclear factor κB pathway as a potential mediator of resistance to MAPK pathway inhibitors. The MicroSCALE platform described here may enable new classes of large-scale, resource-efficient screens that were not previously feasible, including those involving combinations of cell lines, perturbations, and assay outputs or those involving limited numbers of cells and limited or expensive reagents.

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