High-Content Screening for Quantitative Cell Biology

Trends Cell Biol. 2016 Aug;26(8):598-611. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2016.03.008. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


High-content screening (HCS), which combines automated fluorescence microscopy with quantitative image analysis, allows the acquisition of unbiased multiparametric data at the single cell level. This approach has been used to address diverse biological questions and identify a plethora of quantitative phenotypes of varying complexity in numerous different model systems. Here, we describe some recent applications of HCS, ranging from the identification of genes required for specific biological processes to the characterization of genetic interactions. We review the steps involved in the design of useful biological assays and automated image analysis, and describe major challenges associated with each. Additionally, we highlight emerging technologies and future challenges, and discuss how the field of HCS might be enhanced in the future.

Keywords: automated image analysis; high-content screening; high-throughput microscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Biology*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Proteome / metabolism


  • Proteome