A high-content screening (HCS) assay for the identification of chemical inducers of PML oncogenic domains (PODs)

J Biomol Screen. 2011 Feb;16(2):251-8. doi: 10.1177/1087057110394181. Epub 2011 Jan 13.


PML is a multi-functional protein with roles in tumor suppression and host defense against viruses. When active, PML localizes to subnuclear structures named PML oncogenic domains (PODs) or PML nuclear bodies (PML-NBs), whereas inactive PML is located diffusely throughout the nucleus of cells. The objective of the current study was to develop a high content screening (HCS) assay for the identification of chemical activators of PML. We describe methods for automated analysis of POD formation using high throughput microscopy (HTM) to localize PML immunofluorescence in conjunction with image analysis software for POD quantification. Using this HCS assay in 384 well format, we performed pilot screens of a small synthetic chemical library and mixture-based combinatorial libraries, demonstrating the robust performance of the assay. HCS counter-screening assays were also developed for hit characterization, based on immunofluorescence analyses of the subcellular location of phosphorylated H2AX or phosphorylated CHK1, which increase in a punctate nuclear pattern in response to DNA damage. Thus, the HCS assay devised here represents a high throughput screen that can be utilized to discover POD-inducing compounds that may restore the tumor suppressor activity of PML in cancers or possibly promote anti-viral states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • HeLa Cells
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • CALCOCO2 protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • PML protein, human