A key modality of non-surgical cancer management is DNA damaging therapy that causes DNA double-strand breaks that are preferentially toxic to rapidly dividing cancer cells. Double-strand break repair capacity is recognized as an important mechanism in drug resistance and is therefore a potential target for adjuvant chemotherapy. Additionally, spontaneous and environmentally induced DSBs are known to promote cancer, making DSB evaluation important as a tool in epidemiology, clinical evaluation and in the development of novel pharmaceuticals. Currently available assays to detect double-strand breaks are limited in throughput and specificity and offer minimal information concerning the kinetics of repair. Here, we present the CometChip, a 96-well platform that enables assessment of double-strand break levels and repair capacity of multiple cell types and conditions in parallel and integrates with standard high-throughput screening and analysis technologies. We demonstrate the ability to detect multiple genetic deficiencies in double-strand break repair and evaluate a set of clinically relevant chemical inhibitors of one of the major double-strand break repair pathways, non-homologous end-joining. While other high-throughput repair assays measure residual damage or indirect markers of damage, the CometChip detects physical double-strand breaks, providing direct measurement of damage induction and repair capacity, which may be useful in developing and implementing treatment strategies with reduced side effects.
Keywords: DNA double-strand breaks; DNA repair; DNA-PK inhibitors; high throughput; microarray; neutral comet assay; neutral single-cell electrophoresis assay; non-homologous end-joining.