Profiling the B/T cell receptor repertoire of lymphocyte derived cell lines

BMC Cancer. 2018 Oct 1;18(1):940. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4840-5.


Background: Clonal VDJ rearrangement of B/T cell receptors (B/TCRs) occurring during B/T lymphocyte development has been used as a marker to track the clonality of B/T cell populations.

Methods: We systematically profiled the B/T cell receptor repertoire of 936 cancer cell lines across a variety of cancer types as well as 462 Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) transformed normal B lymphocyte lines using RNA sequencing data.

Results: Rearranged B/TCRs were readily detected in cell lines derived from lymphocytes, and subclonality or potential biclonality were found in a number of blood cancer cell lines. Clonal BCR/TCR rearrangements were detected in several blast phase CML lines and unexpectedly, one gastric cancer cell line (KE-97), reflecting a lymphoid origin of these cells. Notably, clonality was highly prevalent in EBV transformed B lymphocytes, suggesting either transformation only occurred in a few B cells or those with a growth advantage dominated the transformed population through clonal evolution.

Conclusions: Our analysis reveals the complexity and heterogeneity of the BCR/TCR rearrangement repertoire and provides a unique insight into the clonality of lymphocyte derived cell lines.

Keywords: BCR/TCR receptor repertoire; Cancer cell lines; EBV lymphocytes.

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • RNA / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*


  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • RNA