Expression of G protein-coupled receptors and related proteins in HEK293, AtT20, BV2, and N18 cell lines as revealed by microarray analysis

BMC Genomics. 2011 Jan 7:12:14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-12-14.


Background: G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are one of the most widely studied gene superfamilies. Thousands of GPCR research studies have utilized heterologous expression systems such as human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293). Though often treated as 'blank slates', these cell lines nevertheless endogenously express GPCRs and related signaling proteins. The outcome of a given GPCR study can be profoundly influenced by this largely unknown complement of receptors and/or signaling proteins. Little easily accessible information exists that describes the expression profiles of the GPCRs in cell lines. What is accessible is often limited in scope - of the hundreds of GPCRs and related proteins, one is unlikely to find information on expression of more than a dozen proteins in a given cell line. Microarray technology has allowed rapid analysis of mRNA levels of thousands of candidate genes, but though often publicly available, the results can be difficult to efficiently access or even to interpret.

Results: To bridge this gap, we have used microarrays to measure the mRNA levels of a comprehensive profile of non-chemosensory GPCRs and over a hundred GPCR signaling related gene products in four cell lines frequently used for GPCR research: HEK293, AtT20, BV2, and N18.

Conclusions: This study provides researchers an easily accessible mRNA profile of the endogenous signaling repertoire that these four cell lines possess. This will assist in choosing the most appropriate cell line for studying GPCRs and related signaling proteins. It also provides a better understanding of the potential interactions between GPCRs and those signaling proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled