Identifying the cell surface receptors of natural ligands, and deconvoluting the receptor targets of candidate drug leads, presents a challenge in medical research and drug discovery. Traditionally, success rates have been low, and screening efforts often generate numerous false-positive hits that require extensive follow-up to either validate or disregard. If successful, receptor identification enables the discovery of previously unknown, disease-relevant targets, provides critical insights into biological pathways and disease processes, and allows for secondary targets to be uncovered. By expressing the majority of the human plasma membrane proteome in human cells on glass slides in situ, human cell microarray technology provides a powerful approach for identifying receptor target interactions. This approach significantly increases the success rates in identifying specific primary receptor targets and off-targets while limiting the number of false-positive hits. Here we describe cell microarray technology, focusing on new advances including the use of whole cells as bait for receptor interactions, and the inclusion of secreted proteins that widens the utility of the technology in off-target screening.
Keywords: cell microarray; receptor identification; specificity screening; target deconvolution.