Morphobase, an encyclopedic cell morphology database, and its use for drug target identification

Yushi Futamura, Makoto Kawatani, Sayaka Kazami, Kenichi Tanaka, Makoto Muroi, Takeshi Shimizu, Koji Tomita, Nobumoto Watanabe, Hiroyuki Osada*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Visual observation is a powerful approach for screening bioactive compounds that can facilitate the discovery of attractive druggable targets following their chemicobiological validation. So far, many high-content approaches, using sophisticated imaging technology and bioinformatics, have been developed. In our study, we aimed to develop a simpler method that focuses on intact cell images because we found that dynamic changes in morphology are informative, often reflecting the mechanism of action of a drug. Here, we constructed a chemical-genetic phenotype profiling system, based on the high-content cell morphology database Morphobase. This database compiles the phenotypes of cancer cell lines that are induced by hundreds of reference compounds, wherein those of well-characterized anticancer drugs are classified by mode of action. Furthermore, we demonstrate the applicability of this system in identifying NPD6689, NPD8617, and NPD8969 as tubulin inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1620-1630
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 21
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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