Cell-based assays

Regardless of the technology (RNAi, CRISPR, over-expression, etc.), a good cell-based assay is the best foundation for a cell-based screen. We have equipment, provide reagents, share protocols, and more to support development of high-throughput screen assays in Drosophila cells.

Reagents, consultation, and other support is available for screens off-site. We also support screens on-site at our facility. Assays can be done using a number of types of reagents, including reagents for knockdown or over-expression of protein-coding genes, and interrogation of miRNAs.

See links below to relevant reagents, protocols, publications, and more.


Graphical image of tissue culture, fly pushing, and computer, and the team of people who work with them

DRSC-Biomedical Technology Research Resource

October 21, 2019

We are pleased to announce that we have been funded by NIH NIGMS to form the Drosophila Research & Screening Center-Biomedical Technology Research Resource (DRSC-BTRR). The P41-funded DRSC-BTRR (N. Perrimon, PI; S. Mohr, Co-I) builds upon and extends past goals of the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center.

As the DRSC-BTRR, we are working together with collaborators whose 'driving biomedical projects' inform development of new technologies at the DRSC. At the same time, we continue to support Drosophila cell-based RNAi and CRIPSR knockout screens and related...

Read more about DRSC-Biomedical Technology Research Resource
Photo of 384-well assay plates

Drosophila cell screen with DRSC reagent library contributes to identification of new therapeutic target for renal cancer

October 7, 2019

We here at the DRSC/TRiP are thrilled to see this study from Hilary Nicholson et al. published in Science Signaling.

The study provides a great example of how screens in Drosophila cultured cells can be used as part of a cross-species platform aimed at discovery of new targets for disease treatment. The work represents a collaboration between the laboratory of 2019 Nobel Prize winner W. Kaelin and DRSC PI N. Perrimon.


Read more about Drosophila cell screen with DRSC reagent library contributes to identification of new therapeutic target for renal cancer
Cartoon of fly host cells with virus or endosymbiotic bacteria

Cell-based RNAi screening helps reveal host-microbe interactions--two new screen reports

November 19, 2018

Laboratories at the Skirball Institute at New York University and the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University reported results of two different cell-based Drosophila RNAi screens in papers published this week. The screens have in common that they looked at interactions between the host insect cells and a microbe -- the endosymbiont Wolbachia in one study and baculovirus in the other. For more, check out the newly published studies. For both these screens, the DRSC provided libraries for screens that were then performed at the host institution.


... Read more about Cell-based RNAi screening helps reveal host-microbe interactions--two new screen reports

Missed us at ADRC 2018? View our workshop slides!

April 19, 2018
Thank you to all those who attended our workshop at last week's Annual Drosophila Research Conference in Philadelphia, PA, USA. It was great to talk fly stocks, cell screens, and bioinformatics with the community. We are here to help and look forward to continued feedback on the resources we are building to empower your research. PDFs of our workshop presentations are attached to this news item. The slides will help you learn more about our in vivo resources for CRISPR, new pooled cell-based CRISPR screen technology, and bioinformatics resources at our facility.  Feel free to contact... Read more about Missed us at ADRC 2018? View our workshop slides!
Cartoon of essential gene pooled screen (made using BioRender.io)

Pooled-format CRISPR screens in Drosophila cells

March 22, 2018

The DRSC/TRiP-FGR is pleased to support collaborations on pooled CRISPR screens using the method recently, reported in eLife by Viswanatha et al. (PDF download file below).

From the abstract: "... Here, we developed a site-specific integration strategy for library delivery and performed a genome-wide CRISPR knockout screen in Drosophila S2R+ cells. Under basal growth conditions, 1235 genes were essential for cell fitness...

Read more about Pooled-format CRISPR screens in Drosophila cells
Photo of 384-well assay plates

Congrats to Sung, Shears, and colleagues: "Cytokine signaling through Drosophila Mthl10 ties lifespan to environmental stress"

December 13, 2017

Eui Jae Sung, Stephen Shears, and colleagues have published a research report that includes a screen of dsRNAs from the DRSC reagent collection using S2 cells. We shipped dsRNA reagents to the lab for a screen at their home institution, in addition to providing consultation and data management support. The resulting study by Sung et al. was published on Dec. 11, 2017: Sung EJ, Ryuda M, Matsumoto H, Uryu O, Ochiai M, Cook ME, Yi NY, Wang H, Putney JW, Bird GS, Shears SB, Hayakawa Y. Cytokine signaling through Drosophila Mthl10 ties lifespan to environmental stress...

Read more about Congrats to Sung, Shears, and colleagues: "Cytokine signaling through Drosophila Mthl10 ties lifespan to environmental stress"

Contact Us

Please contact us for any questions.


Arunachalam Vinayagam, Meghana M Kulkarni, Richelle Sopko, Xiaoyun Sun, Yanhui Hu, Ankita Nand, Christians Villalta, Ahmadali Moghimi, Xuemei Yang, Stephanie E Mohr, Pengyu Hong, John M Asara, and Norbert Perrimon. 9/13/2016. “An Integrative Analysis of the InR/PI3K/Akt Network Identifies the Dynamic Response to Insulin Signaling.” Cell Reports, 16, 11, Pp. 3062-3074.Abstract

Insulin regulates an essential conserved signaling pathway affecting growth, proliferation, and meta- bolism. To expand our understanding of the insulin pathway, we combine biochemical, genetic, and computational approaches to build a comprehensive Drosophila InR/PI3K/Akt network. First, we map the dynamic protein-protein interaction network sur- rounding the insulin core pathway using bait-prey interactions connecting 566 proteins. Combining RNAi screening and phospho-specific antibodies, we find that 47% of interacting proteins affect pathway activity, and, using quantitative phospho- proteomics, we demonstrate that $10% of interact- ing proteins are regulated by insulin stimulation at the level of phosphorylation. Next, we integrate these orthogonal datasets to characterize the structure and dynamics of the insulin network at the level of protein complexes and validate our method by iden- tifying regulatory roles for the Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and Reptin-Pontin chromatin-remodeling complexes as negative and positive regulators of ribosome biogenesis, respectively. Altogether, our study represents a comprehensive resource for the study of the evolutionary conserved insulin network. 

Joel M Swenson, Serafin U Colmenares, Amy R Strom, Sylvain V Costes, and Gary H Karpen. 2016. “The composition and organization of Drosophila heterochromatin are heterogeneous and dynamic.” Elife, 5.Abstract

Heterochromatin is enriched for specific epigenetic factors including Heterochromatin Protein 1a (HP1a), and is essential for many organismal functions. To elucidate heterochromatin organization and regulation, we purified Drosophila melanogaster HP1a interactors, and performed a genome-wide RNAi screen to identify genes that impact HP1a levels or localization. The majority of the over four hundred putative HP1a interactors and regulators identified were previously unknown. We found that 13 of 16 tested candidates (83%) are required for gene silencing, providing a substantial increase in the number of identified components that impact heterochromatin properties. Surprisingly, image analysis revealed that although some HP1a interactors and regulators are broadly distributed within the heterochromatin domain, most localize to discrete subdomains that display dynamic localization patterns during the cell cycle. We conclude that heterochromatin composition and architecture is more spatially complex and dynamic than previously suggested, and propose that a network of subdomains regulates diverse heterochromatin functions.

Alfeu Zanotto-Filho, Ravi Dashnamoorthy, Eva Loranc, Luis HT de Souza, José CF Moreira, Uthra Suresh, Yidong Chen, and Alexander JR Bishop. 2016. “Combined Gene Expression and RNAi Screening to Identify Alkylation Damage Survival Pathways from Fly to Human.” PLoS One, 11, 4, Pp. e0153970.Abstract

Alkylating agents are a key component of cancer chemotherapy. Several cellular mechanisms are known to be important for its survival, particularly DNA repair and xenobiotic detoxification, yet genomic screens indicate that additional cellular components may be involved. Elucidating these components has value in either identifying key processes that can be modulated to improve chemotherapeutic efficacy or may be altered in some cancers to confer chemoresistance. We therefore set out to reevaluate our prior Drosophila RNAi screening data by comparison to gene expression arrays in order to determine if we could identify any novel processes in alkylation damage survival. We noted a consistent conservation of alkylation survival pathways across platforms and species when the analysis was conducted on a pathway/process level rather than at an individual gene level. Better results were obtained when combining gene lists from two datasets (RNAi screen plus microarray) prior to analysis. In addition to previously identified DNA damage responses (p53 signaling and Nucleotide Excision Repair), DNA-mRNA-protein metabolism (transcription/translation) and proteasome machinery, we also noted a highly conserved cross-species requirement for NRF2, glutathione (GSH)-mediated drug detoxification and Endoplasmic Reticulum stress (ER stress)/Unfolded Protein Responses (UPR) in cells exposed to alkylation. The requirement for GSH, NRF2 and UPR in alkylation survival was validated by metabolomics, protein studies and functional cell assays. From this we conclude that RNAi/gene expression fusion is a valid strategy to rapidly identify key processes that may be extendable to other contexts beyond damage survival.

Iiro Taneli Helenius, Ryan J Haake, Yong-Jae Kwon, Jennifer A Hu, Thomas Krupinski, Marina S Casalino-Matsuda, Peter HS Sporn, Jacob I Sznajder, and Greg J Beitel. 2016. “Identification of Drosophila Zfh2 as a Mediator of Hypercapnic Immune Regulation by a Genome-Wide RNA Interference Screen.” J Immunol, 196, 2, Pp. 655-67.Abstract

Hypercapnia, elevated partial pressure of CO2 in blood and tissue, develops in many patients with chronic severe obstructive pulmonary disease and other advanced lung disorders. Patients with advanced disease frequently develop bacterial lung infections, and hypercapnia is a risk factor for mortality in such individuals. We previously demonstrated that hypercapnia suppresses induction of NF-κB-regulated innate immune response genes required for host defense in human, mouse, and Drosophila cells, and it increases mortality from bacterial infections in both mice and Drosophila. However, the molecular mediators of hypercapnic immune suppression are undefined. In this study, we report a genome-wide RNA interference screen in Drosophila S2* cells stimulated with bacterial peptidoglycan. The screen identified 16 genes with human orthologs whose knockdown reduced hypercapnic suppression of the gene encoding the antimicrobial peptide Diptericin (Dipt), but did not increase Dipt mRNA levels in air. In vivo tests of one of the strongest screen hits, zinc finger homeodomain 2 (Zfh2; mammalian orthologs ZFHX3/ATBF1 and ZFHX4), demonstrate that reducing zfh2 function using a mutation or RNA interference improves survival of flies exposed to elevated CO2 and infected with Staphylococcus aureus. Tissue-specific knockdown of zfh2 in the fat body, the major immune and metabolic organ of the fly, mitigates hypercapnia-induced reductions in Dipt and other antimicrobial peptides and improves resistance of CO2-exposed flies to infection. Zfh2 mutations also partially rescue hypercapnia-induced delays in egg hatching, suggesting that Zfh2's role in mediating responses to hypercapnia extends beyond the immune system. Taken together, to our knowledge, these results identify Zfh2 as the first in vivo mediator of hypercapnic immune suppression.

Hirotaka Kanoh, Takayuki Kuraishi, Li-Li Tong, Ryo Watanabe, Shinji Nagata, and Shoichiro Kurata. 2015. “Ex vivo genome-wide RNAi screening of the Drosophila Toll signaling pathway elicited by a larva-derived tissue extract.” Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 467, 2, Pp. 400-6.Abstract
Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), so-called "danger signals," play important roles in host defense and pathophysiology in mammals and insects. In Drosophila, the Toll pathway confers damage responses during bacterial infection and improper cell-fate control. However, the intrinsic ligands and signaling mechanisms that potentiate innate immune responses remain unknown. Here, we demonstrate that a Drosophila larva-derived tissue extract strongly elicits Toll pathway activation via the Toll receptor. Using this extract, we performed ex vivo genome-wide RNAi screening in Drosophila cultured cells, and identified several signaling factors that are required for host defense and antimicrobial-peptide expression in Drosophila adults. These results suggest that our larva-derived tissue extract contains active ingredients that mediate Toll pathway activation, and the screening data will shed light on the mechanisms of damage-related Toll pathway signaling in Drosophila.
Hirotaka Kanoh, Li-Li Tong, Takayuki Kuraishi, Yamato Suda, Yoshiki Momiuchi, Fumi Shishido, and Shoichiro Kurata. 2015. “Genome-wide RNAi screening implicates the E3 ubiquitin ligase Sherpa in mediating innate immune signaling by Toll in Drosophila adults.” Sci Signal, 8, 400, Pp. ra107.Abstract
The Drosophila Toll pathway plays important roles in innate immune responses against Gram-positive bacteria and fungi. To identify previously uncharacterized components of this pathway, we performed comparative, ex vivo, genome-wide RNA interference screening. In four screens, we overexpressed the Toll adaptor protein dMyd88, the downstream kinase Pelle, or the nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) homolog Dif, or we knocked down Cactus, the Drosophila homolog of mammalian inhibitor of NF-κB. On the basis of these screens, we identified the E3 ubiquitin ligase Sherpa as being necessary for the activation of Toll signaling. A loss-of-function sherpa mutant fly exhibited compromised production of antimicrobial peptides and enhanced susceptibility to infection by Gram-positive bacteria. In cultured cells, Sherpa mediated ubiquitylation of dMyd88 and Sherpa itself, and Sherpa and Drosophila SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier) were required for the proper membrane localization of an adaptor complex containing dMyd88. These findings highlight a role for Sherpa in Drosophila host defense and suggest the SUMOylation-mediated regulation of dMyd88 functions in Toll innate immune signaling.