Dynamical analysis of drug efficacy and mechanism of action using gfp reporters

Jianping Hua, Chao Sima, Milana Cypert, Gerald C. Gooden, Sonsoles Shack, Lalitamba Alla, Edward A. Smith, Jeffrey M. Trent, Edward R. Dougherty, Michael L. Bittner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Two issues are critical to the development of effective cancer-drug combinations. First, it is necessary to determine common combinations of alterations that exert strong control over proliferation and survival regulation for the general type of cancer being considered. Second, it is necessary to have a drug testing method that allows one to assess the variety of responses that can be provoked by drugs acting at key points in the cellular processes dictating proliferation and survival. Utilizing a previously reported GFP (green fluorescent protein) reporter-based technology that provides dynamic measurements of individual reporters in individual cells, the present paper proposes a dynamical systems approach to these issues. It involves a three-state experimental design: (1) formulate an oncologic pathway model of relevant processes; (2) perturb the pathways with the test drug and drugs with known effects on components of the pathways of interest; and (3) measure process activity indicators at various points on cell populations. This design addresses the fundamental problems in the design and analysis of combinatorial drug treatments. We apply the dynamical approach to three issues in the context of colon cancer cell lines: (1) identification of cell subpopulations possessing differing degrees of drug sensitivity; (2) the consequences of different drug dosing strategies on cellular processes; and (3) assessing the consequences of combinatorial versus monotherapy. Finally, we illustrate how the dynamical systems approach leads to a mechanistic hypothesis in the colon cancer HCT116 cell line.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-422
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Biological Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Drug response
  • fluorescent protein reporter
  • high-content imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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