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Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2013 Sep;11(7):449-56. doi: 10.1089/adt.2013.515. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

Development of multiple cell-based assays for the detection of histone H3 Lys27 trimethylation (H3K27me3).

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Reaction Biology Corp., Malvern, Pennsylvania.


Posttranslational modification of histone proteins in eukaryotes plays an important role in gene transcription and chromatin structure. Dysregulation of the enzymes involved in histone modification has been linked to many cancer forms, making this target class a potential new area for therapeutics. A reliable assay to monitor small-molecule inhibition of various epigenetic enzymes should play a critical role in drug discovery to fight cancer. However, it has been challenging to develop cell-based assays for high-throughput screening (HTS) and compound profiling. Recently, two homogeneous cell-based assay kits using the AlphaLISA(®) and LanthaScreen(®) technologies to detect trimethyl histone H3 Lysine 27 have become commercially available, and a heterogeneous cell assay with modified dissociation-enhanced lanthanide fluorescence immunoassay (DELFIA(®)) format has been reported. To compare their pros and cons, we evaluated, optimized, and validated these three assay formats in three different cell lines and compared their activities with traditional Western blot detection of histone methylation inhibition by using commercial and in-house small-molecule inhibitors. Our data indicate that, although all four formats produced acceptable results, the homogeneous AlphaLISA assay was best suited for HTS and compound profiling due to its wider window and ease of automation. The DELFIA and Western blot assays were useful as validation tools to confirm the cell activities and eliminate potential false-positive compounds.

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