Human cell lines and cell culture technology are used in a number of biomedical research and clinical applications including cancer research, drug discovery, genetics, biobanking and more. However, misidentification of human and animal cell lines has been a long-standing problem with awareness of the issue going back as far as the 1950s. The use of misidentified cell lines continues today in spite of multiple and repeated warnings, articles and letters by prominent scientists in the field calling for authentication.
The need is great for researchers to authenticate their human cell lines. The call for authentication has been made for over five decades now, yet still, many researches do not perform this vital quality assessment. Recently there have been more spotlights shining on this deficiency through articles appearing on National Public Radio (NPR) series last December, comments from Dr. Francis Collins of the NIH and most recently the Nature announcement in changes to abstract submission. As a result, more institutions are coming around to offering, even requiring, human cell line authentication through their DNA core labs or service providers.
Cell line authentication can be achieved by genetic profiling using polymorphic short tandem repeat (STR) loci. STR loci consist of repetitive sequence elements 2–6 base pairs in length. These highly discriminative markers can be utilized using rapid and inexpensive multiplex-PCR based method for the identification and detection of contaminating human cells.
Cell Line Authentication Matters
Misidentified or contaminated cell lines lead to invalidation of data and lost time, money and effort.
Authentication of human cell lines is required or strongly encouraged by many journals and funding agencies.
ANSI Standard ASN-0002-2011 recommends the use of STRs for human cell line authentication.
STR testing is recommended upon receipt of new cell lines and at regular intervals during passage and between passages.