Eternity and functionality - rational access to physiologically relevant cell lines

Biol Chem. 2013 Dec;394(12):1637-48. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2013-0158.


In the first 50 years of cell culture, the development of new cell lines was mainly based on trial and error. Due to the understanding of the molecular networks of aging, senescence, proliferation, and adaption by mutation, the generation of new cell lines with physiologic properties has become more systematic. This endeavor has been supported by the availability of new technological achievements and increasing knowledge about the biology of cell differentiation and cell-cell communication. Here, we review some promising developments that are contributing toward this goal. These include molecular tools frequently used for the immortalization process. In addition to these broadly acting immortalization regimens, we focus on the developments of cell type-specific immortalization and on the methodologies of how to control the growth of newly established cell lines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line, Transformed / cytology
  • Cell Line, Transformed / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Humans
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Recombinases / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Recombinases