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Authenticated Cell Lines

Why is cell line authentication important?

Contaminated and misidentified cell lines are a serious and pervasive problem in the research community. A cell line becomes misidentified through cross-contamination, mislabeling, or other laboratory errors, meaning that it no longer corresponds to the original donor and may in fact come from an entirely different species, tissue or disease. Consequently, data derived from misidentified cell lines can be misleading or false, and cause confusion in the scientific literature. To address this issue, a growing number of journals and funding agencies now require researchers to authenticate their cell lines using an accepted consensus method, such as short tandem repeat (STR) profiling.

The International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC) provides many resources and best practice guidelines for researchers, including a curated register of cell lines already known to be misidentified or contaminated.

In summary, to reduce the impact of misidentified cell lines, ICLAC recommends:

  1. Check the register of known misidentified cell lines before starting work
  2. Incorporate authentication testing into everyday culture practice
  3. Report testing as an essential part of publications and grant applications

How can I find out if my cell line is already known to be misidentified?

Check the ICLAC register of known misidentified cell lines. The full dataset can be downloaded from ICLAC website directly. It is also disseminated via multiple resources, including here in the BioSample database (browse misidentified cell lines). To search the register in BioSample, enter your cell line name into this box:

How can I find STR calls for my cell line?

The first place to check is the repository from which your cell line was originally purchased. Alternatively, the BioSample database stores STR profiles and descriptions for several thousand cell lines, as provided by cell line repositories (browse cell lines with STR profiles). To search STR data for your cell line in BioSample, enter your cell line name into this box:

I’m a researcher and I’ve generated STR calls for the cell line I’m using. How can I determine if my STR calls match the calls generated by the cell line repository?

At this time, there is no mechanism to perform direct matching or comparisons of the STR profiles in the BioSample database with user input data. Instead, we recommend the ATCC STR matching tool and the DSMZ STR matching tool to help you find the best matches between your STR calls and cell lines in those databases. Alternatively, you can consult the ICLAC Match Criteria Worksheet to determine if STR profiles from two cell lines are related.

I represent a cell line repository. How can I submit cell line descriptions, electropherogram images and STR calls to the BioSample database?

Cell line repositories can contribute to this collection and deposit cell line descriptions, authenticated STR calls and electropherogram images to the BioSample database using this STR submission template. Full instructions are provided within the template. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact the BioSample help team.

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