The use of gene expression signatures to classify compounds, identify efficacy or toxicity, and differentiate close analogs relies on the sensitivity of the method to identify modulated genes. We used a novel ligation-based targeted whole transcriptome expression profiling assay, TempO-Seq®, to determine whether previously unreported compound-responsive genes could be identified and incorporated into a broad but specific compound signature. TempO-Seq exhibits 99.6% specificity, single cell sensitivity, and excellent correlation with fold differences measured by RNA-Seq (R2 = 0.9) for 20,629 targets. Unlike many expression assays, TempO-Seq does not require RNA purification, cDNA synthesis, or capture of targeted RNA, and lacks a 3' end bias. To investigate the sensitivity of the TempO-Seq assay to identify significantly modulated compound-responsive genes, we derived whole transcriptome profiles from MCF-7 cells treated with the histone deacetylase inhibitor Trichostatin A (TSA) and identified more than 9,000 differentially expressed genes. The TSA profile for MCF-7 cells overlapped those for HL-60 and PC-3 cells in the Connectivity Map (cMAP) database, suggesting a common TSA-specific expression profile independent of baseline gene expression. A 43-gene cell-independent TSA signature was extracted from cMAP and confirmed in TempO-Seq MCF-7 data. Additional genes that were not previously reported to be TSA responsive in the cMAP database were also identified. TSA treatment of 5 cell types revealed 1,136 differentially expressed genes in common, including 785 genes not previously reported to be TSA responsive. We conclude that TSA induces a specific expression signature that is consistent across widely different cell types, that this signature contains genes not previously associated with TSA responses, and that TempO-Seq provides the sensitive differential expression detection needed to define such compound-specific, cell-independent, changes in expression.