Domain-invariant features for mechanism of action prediction in a multi-cell-line drug screen

Nom de la revue
Joseph C Boyd, Alice Pinheiro, Elaine Del Nery, Fabien Reyal, Thomas Walter


High-content screening is an important tool in drug discovery and characterization. Often, high-content drug screens are performed on one single-cell line. Yet, a single-cell line cannot be thought of as a perfect disease model. Many diseases feature an important molecular heterogeneity. Consequently, a drug may be effective against one molecular subtype of a disease, but less so against another. To characterize drugs with respect to their effect not only on one cell line but on a panel of cell lines is therefore a promising strategy to streamline the drug discovery process.

The contribution of this article is 2-fold. First, we investigate whether we can predict drug mechanism of action (MOA) at the molecular level without optimization of the MOA classes to the screen specificities. To this end, we benchmark a set of algorithms within a conventional pipeline, and evaluate their MOA prediction performance according to a statistically rigorous framework. Second, we extend this conventional pipeline to the simultaneous analysis of multiple cell lines, each manifesting potentially different morphological baselines. For this, we propose multi-task autoencoders, including a domain-adaptive model used to construct domain-invariant feature representations across cell lines. We apply these methods to a pilot screen of two triple negative breast cancer cell lines as models for two different molecular subtypes of the disease.

Availability and implementation or

Supplementary information
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.