PloS one

A novel multiplexed, image-based approach to detect phenotypes that underlie chromosome instability in human cells.

PMID 25893404


Chromosome instability (CIN) is characterized by a progressive change in chromosome numbers. It is a characteristic common to virtually all tumor types, and is commonly observed in highly aggressive and drug resistant tumors. Despite this information, the majority of human CIN genes have yet to be elucidated. In this study, we developed and validated a multiplexed, image-based screen capable of detecting three different phenotypes associated with CIN. Large-scale chromosome content changes were detected by quantifying changes in nuclear volumes following RNAi-based gene silencing. Using a DsRED-LacI reporter system to fluorescently label chromosome 11 within a human fibrosarcoma cell line, we were able to detect deviations from the expected number of two foci per nucleus (one focus/labelled chromosome) that occurred following CIN gene silencing. Finally, micronucleus enumeration was performed, as an increase in micronucleus formation is a classic hallmark of CIN. To validate the ability of each assay to detect phenotypes that underlie CIN, we silenced the established CIN gene, SMC1A. Following SMC1A silencing we detected an increase in nuclear volumes, a decrease in the number of nuclei harboring two DsRED-LacI foci, and an increase in micronucleus formation relative to controls (untreated and siGAPDH). Similar results were obtained in an unrelated human fibroblast cell line. The results of this study indicate that each assay is capable of detecting CIN-associated phenotypes, and can be utilized in future experiments to uncover novel human CIN genes, which will provide novel insight into the pathogenesis of cancer.