This cell line section provides information on the fundamentals of cell culture, including the selection of the appropriate cell line for your experiments.  Also you can learn about: Adherent Cell Culture vs. Suspension Cell Culture

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Selecting the appropriate cell line

Consider the following criteria for selecting the appropriate cell line for your experiments:

  • Species:  Non-human and non-primate cell lines usually have fewer biosafety restrictions, but ultimately your experiments will dictate whether to use species-specific cultures or not.

  • Functional characteristics:  What is the purpose of your experiments?  For example, liver- and kidney-derived cell lines may be more suitable for toxicity testing.

  • Finite or continuous:  While choosing from finite cell lines may give you more options to express the correct functions, continuous cell lines are often easier to clone and maintain.

  • Normal or transformed:  Transformed cell lines usually have an increased growth rate and higher plating efficiency, are continuous, and require less serum in media, but they have undergone a permanent change in their phenotype through a genetic transformation.

  • Growth conditions & characteristics:  What are your requirements with respect to growth rate, saturation density, cloning efficiency, and the ability to grow in suspension?  For example, to express a recombinant protein in high yields, you might want to choose a cell line with a fast growth rate and an ability to grow in suspension.

  • Other criteria:  If you are using a finite cell line, are there sufficient stocks available?  Is the cell line well-characterized, or do you have to perform the validation yourself?  If you are using an abnormal cell line, do you have an equivalent normal cell line that you can use as a control?  Is the cell line stable?  If not, how easy it is to clone it and generate sufficient frozen stocks for your experiments? 

Acquiring cell lines

You may establish your own culture from primary cells, or you may choose to buy established cell cultures from commercial or non-profit suppliers (i.e., cell banks).  Reputable suppliers provide high quality cell lines that are carefully tested for their integrity and to ensure that the culture is free from contaminants.  We advise against borrowing cultures from other laboratories because they carry a high risk of cell culture contamination.  Regardless of their source, make sure that all new cell lines are tested for mycoplasma contamination before you begin to use them.  

We offer a variety of primary cultures and established cell lines, reagents, media, sera, and growth factors for your cell culture experiments.

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