Re-evaluation of HeLa, HeLa S3, and HEp-2 karyotypes

Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1988;48(1):19-24. doi: 10.1159/000132579.


In contrast to earlier reports, this study on HeLa, HeLa S3, and HEp-2 revealed that karyotypes of each cell line are characterized by a consistent marker chromosome composition and a constant number of copies for both normal and marker chromosomes. Based on these chromosome fingerprints and an analysis of 50 metaphases, the modal karyotype of each cell line was defined. Each modal karyotype had the composite content of the previously reported karyotypes of the same cell line, and, generally, the former had the same or a higher number of copies per chromosome than the latter. This modal karyotype can be used as a standard to identify and further individualize both the cell line itself and a subline within that cell line. We have also found that many cells within each cell line have the same karyotype. Portions of numerical data are compiled in a chart format by which the extent of chromosome differences between cultures can readily be compared. Also discussed in brief are characteristic chromosome changes that may help distinguish clonally derived cell lines from lines derived by cross-contamination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Chromosome Banding
  • Chromosomes, Human*
  • Genetic Markers
  • HeLa Cells*
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping


  • Genetic Markers