Acumen eX3 Speeds Up Genome-wide Screening at Cancer Research UK


25 December, 2008

TTP LabTech today announced that Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has recently purchased an Acumen eX3 microplate cytometer to run an RNAi whole genome screen to identify cytotoxic survival regulators.

The Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute (LRI) has recently established a High-Throughput Screening facility to enable its research groups to easily access genome-wide siRNA and RNAi screening technologies. The 46 research groups at the LRI are engaged in innovative biological research to improve our understanding of cancer. The techniques employed are hugely varied and encompass approaches using anything from yeast to flies to human cells. The human genome siRNA collection contains approximately 22,000 genes spread over some 267 96-well plates; and a typical genome screen in triplicate would require 801 plates to be analyzed. Therefore the LRI facility needs equipment that is robust, capable of high-throughput and very flexible to accommodate all of the possible interests of the research groups.

“Our extended trial of the Acumen eX3 demonstrated that it met all of these needs.  In the immediate future it will enable us to perform very complicated assays measuring 20-30 cell cycle related parameters for every cell in every well of every plate” said the LRI’s Mike Howell. “In the longer term we can see applications across a whole range of assays, species and cell types including multi-parametric analysis of mixed cell populations, wound healing assays and cell adhesion assays”. The Acumen eX3 will be used to complement the existing infrastructure of automated microscopes, but will also be used as an investigative tool in its own right.

The high throughputs achieved by the Acumen eX3 means that to screen the whole genome will take days, compared to the same screen taking at least 2 years on a flow-based instrument. It can read an entire 384-well plate in under 10 minutes, and this includes multiplexing the assay with other biomarkers. A recent study (Kittler, R et al.Nature Cell Biology. 2007; 9: 1401-1412) looking at genome-scale RNAi profiling of cell division in human tissue culture cells was screened on an Acumen microplate cytometer. The siRNA library targeted 17,828 genes, and identified 252 previously uncharacterized genes as being involved in the regulation of the cell cycle.

About Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute

Research at the Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute (LRI) aims to understand two phenomena central to our understanding of cancer development and spread, which are intimately connected through their interactions with the cell cycle. First, the nature and role of the signaling process which control both the intrinsic properties of cancer cells, and their interactions with their host; and second, how the integrity of the genome is maintained in the face of multiple environmental and endogenous insults. The LRI’s research portfolio focuses around two themes – signal transduction (biology of tissues and organs, and molecular cell biology) and genome integrity (cell cycle and chromosomes, and DNA repair).

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