Use of isogenic human cancer cells for high-throughput screening and drug discovery

Christopher J. Torrance, Vijai Agrawal, Bert Vogelstein, Kenneth W. Kinzler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cell-based screening for novel tumor-specific drugs has been compromised by the lack of appropriate control cells. We describe a strategy for drug screening based on isogenic human cancer cell lines in which key tumorigenic genes have been deleted by targeted homologous recombination. As a test case, a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) expression vector was introduced into the colon cancer cell line DLD-1, and a blue fluorescent protein (BFP) expression vector was introduced into an isogenic derivative in which the mutant K-Ras allele had been deleted. Co-culture of both cell lines allowed facile screening for compounds with selective toxicity toward the mutant Ras genotype. Among 30,000 compounds screened, a novel cytidine nucleoside analog was identified that displayed selective activity in vitro and inhibited tumor xenografts containing mutant Ras. The present data demonstrate a broadly applicable approach for mining therapeutic agents targeted to the specific genetic alterations responsible for cancer development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-945
Number of pages6
JournalNature biotechnology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 20 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering

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