High-Throughput Screening Enhances Kidney Organoid Differentiation from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells and Enables Automated Multidimensional Phenotyping

Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Jun 1;22(6):929-940.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.04.022. Epub 2018 May 17.


Organoids derived from human pluripotent stem cells are a potentially powerful tool for high-throughput screening (HTS), but the complexity of organoid cultures poses a significant challenge for miniaturization and automation. Here, we present a fully automated, HTS-compatible platform for enhanced differentiation and phenotyping of human kidney organoids. The entire 21-day protocol, from plating to differentiation to analysis, can be performed automatically by liquid-handling robots, or alternatively by manual pipetting. High-content imaging analysis reveals both dose-dependent and threshold effects during organoid differentiation. Immunofluorescence and single-cell RNA sequencing identify previously undetected parietal, interstitial, and partially differentiated compartments within organoids and define conditions that greatly expand the vascular endothelium. Chemical modulation of toxicity and disease phenotypes can be quantified for safety and efficacy prediction. Screening in gene-edited organoids in this system reveals an unexpected role for myosin in polycystic kidney disease. Organoids in HTS formats thus establish an attractive platform for multidimensional phenotypic screening.

MeSH terms

  • Automation
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology*
  • Organoids / cytology*
  • Phenotype*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA