Essential role for gene profiling analysis in the authentication of human cell lines

Hum Cell. 2006 Feb;19(1):43-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-0774.2005.00007.x.


Cross-contamination between cultured cell lines can result in the generation of erroneous scientific data. Hence, it is very important to eliminate cell lines that are of an origin different from that being claimed. Inter-species contamination can be detected by various established methods, such as karyotype and isozyme analyses. However, it has been impossible to detect intraspecies cross-contamination prior to the development of technology to detect differences between cell lines at the molecular level. Recently, profiling of short tandem repeat (STR) polymorphisms has been established as a method for the analyses of gene polymorphism. Gene profiling by STR polymorphism (STR profiling) is a simple and reliable method to identify individual cell lines. Each human cell line currently provided by the Cell Engineering Division of the RIKEN BioResource Center was analyzed by STR profiling to authenticate its identity. We found that more than 10 human cell lines out of approximately 400 were in fact identical to a different cell line deposited in the collection, and therefore had been misidentified. We conclude that STR profiling is a useful and powerful method for eliminating cell lines that have been misidentified by cross-contamination or by other causes. Hence, STR profiling of human cell lines used in published research will likely be a prerequisite for publication in the future, so that the problem of misidentification of cell lines can be eliminated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Specimen Handling
  • Tissue Banks