Cellular Genetics Laboratory

Cell Line Identification in Biomedical Research

Do you know whether the cell line you are using in your research is authentic?

For example, a cell line which is believed to be of human breast cancer may actually be the cell line of a human prostate cancer, mouse or Syrian hamster.

Cell line contamination is not uncommon incident in a laboratory handling more than one cell line. Cell line contamination may also be caused by the transformation of host cells by the injected human tumor cells. Human tumors injected into nude murine animals may transform host cells and the tumor growing in the host animal may be a mixture of human and murine cells or purely of murine origin (Oncol Res 9:433-438, 1997; Br J Cancer 76:1134-1138, 1997). Inter- or intraspecies cell line contamination can easily be identified by conventional and molecular cytogenetics. It can save valuable time, effort and precious research funds and prevent investigators from innocently publishing erroneous molecular data and misleading conclusions.

Note: The images below link to full size counterparts.

Human (injected): A G-banded karyotype of human cell line injection into nude mice

This representative karyotype from a human prostate cancer cell line before injection into nude mice shows all human chromosomes with characteristic marker chromosomes.

Mouse (harvested): A karyotype of cells harvested from a nude mice in which human prostate cancer cells were injected

This Giemsa-banded karyotype shows all mouse chromosomes of a cell line established from tumor that grew in a nude mouse after injection of human prostate cancer cell line. Two markers (M1 and M2) were present in every metaphase plate. These markers from another spread are shown at the bottom. A typical murine Y chromosome was not present in this particular metaphase plate.

Fish1: FISH image showing no human DNA in a mouse cell line harvested from a nude mice in which human cancer cells were injected

FISH analysis with total human total genomic probe showed no hybridization signals in murine cells (A) whereas human and mouse hybrid melanoma cell line, used as a control, showed hybridization signals on human chromosomes (B). The cells in panel A represent a cell line established from tumor that grew in a nude mouse after injection of human prostate cancer cell line.

Send correspondence to:

Professor Sen Pathak
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
Cellular Genetics Laboratory
1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 1010
Houston, Texas 77030
Phone: (713) 563-1892
Fax: (713) 792-8747
E-mail: spathak@mdanderson.org