Misspellings or "miscellings"-Non-verifiable and unknown cell lines in cancer research publications

Int J Cancer. 2024 May 15. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34995. Online ahead of print.


Reproducible laboratory research relies on correctly identified reagents. We have previously described gene research papers with wrongly identified nucleotide sequence(s), including papers studying miR-145. Manually verifying reagent identities in 36 recent miR-145 papers found that 56% and 17% of papers described misidentified nucleotide sequences and cell lines, respectively. We also found 5 cell line identifiers in miR-145 papers with misidentified nucleotide sequences and cell lines, and 18 cell line identifiers published elsewhere, that did not represent indexed human cell lines. These 23 identifiers were described as non-verifiable (NV), as their identities were unclear. Studying 420 papers that mentioned 8 NV identifier(s) found 235 papers (56%) that referred to 7 identifiers (BGC-803, BSG-803, BSG-823, GSE-1, HGC-7901, HGC-803, and MGC-823) as independent cell lines. We could not find any publications describing how these cell lines were established. Six cell lines were sourced from cell line repositories with externally accessible online catalogs, but these cell lines were not indexed as claimed. Some papers also stated that short tandem repeat (STR) profiles had been generated for three cell lines, yet no STR profiles could be identified. In summary, as NV cell lines represent new challenges to research integrity and reproducibility, further investigations are required to clarify their status and identities.

Keywords: cancer; cell lines; non‐verifiable; reagents; wrongly identified.