High-throughput RNAi screening by time-lapse imaging of live human cells
Authors: Neumann B, Held M, Liebel U, Erfle H, Rogers P, Pepperkok R, Ellenberg J
CellNetworks People: Erfle Holger, Ellenberg Jan
Journal: Nat Methods. 2006 May;3(5):385-90

RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful tool to study gene function in cultured cells. Transfected cell microarrays in principle allow high-throughput phenotypic analysis after gene knockdown by microscopy. But bottlenecks in imaging and data analysis have limited such high-content screens to endpoint assays in fixed cells and determination of global parameters such as viability. Here we have overcome these limitations and developed an automated platform for high-content RNAi screening by time-lapse fluorescence microscopy of live HeLa cells expressing histone-GFP to report on chromosome segregation and structure. We automated all steps, including printing transfection-ready small interfering RNA (siRNA) microarrays, fluorescence imaging and computational phenotyping of digital images, in a high-throughput workflow. We validated this method in a pilot screen assaying cell division and delivered a sensitive, time-resolved phenoprint for each of the 49 endogenous genes we suppressed. This modular platform is scalable and makes the power of time-lapse microscopy available for genome-wide RNAi screens.