HuH-7 reference genome profile: complex karyotype composed of massive loss of heterozygosity

Hum Cell. 2018 Jul;31(3):261-267. doi: 10.1007/s13577-018-0212-3. Epub 2018 May 17.


Human cell lines represent a valuable resource as in vitro experimental models. A hepatoma cell line, HuH-7 (JCRB0403), has been used extensively in various research fields and a number of studies using this line have been published continuously since it was established in 1982. However, an accurate genome profile, which can be served as a reliable reference, has not been available. In this study, we performed M-FISH, SNP microarray and amplicon sequencing to characterize the cell line. Single cell analysis of metaphases revealed a high level of heterogeneity with a mode of 60 chromosomes. Cytogenetic results demonstrated chromosome abnormalities involving every chromosome in addition to a massive loss of heterozygosity, which accounts for 55.3% of the genome, consistent with the homozygous variants seen in the sequence analysis. We provide empirical data that the HuH-7 cell line is composed of highly heterogeneous cell populations, suggesting that besides cell line authentication, the quality of cell lines needs to be taken into consideration in the future use of tumor cell lines.

Keywords: Genome instability; Heterogeneity; Tumor cell line.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • Cytogenetic Analysis
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Genomic Instability / genetics*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotype*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Loss of Heterozygosity*
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide