French, S., Mangat, C., Bharat, A., Côté, J. P., Mori, H., & Brown, E. D. (2016).

Mol Biol Cell. 2016 Mar 15; 27(6): 1015–1025.

While genetic perturbation has been the conventional route to probing bacterial systems, small molecules are showing great promise as probes for cellular complexity. Indeed, systematic investigations of chemical-genetic interactions can provide new insights into cell networks and are often starting points for understanding the mechanism of action of novel chemical probes. We have developed a robust and sensitive platform for chemical-genomic investigations in bacteria. The approach monitors colony volume kinetically using transmissive scanning measurements, enabling acquisition of growth rates and conventional endpoint measurements. We found that chemical-genomic profiles were highly sensitive to concentration, necessitating careful selection of compound concentrations. Roughly 20,000,000 data points were collected for 15 different antibiotics. While 1052 chemical-genetic interactions were identified using the conventional endpoint biomass approach, adding interactions in growth rate resulted in 1564 interactions, a 50–200% increase depending on the drug, with many genes uncharacterized or poorly annotated. The chemical-genetic interaction maps generated from these data reveal common genes likely involved in multidrug resistance. Additionally, the maps identified deletion backgrounds exhibiting class-specific potentiation, revealing conceivable targets for combination approaches to drug discovery. This open platform is highly amenable to kinetic screening of any arrayable strain collection, be it prokaryotic or eukaryotic.