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What Are The Characteristics Of Immortalized Cell Lines?

Immortalized Cell Lines

Cell cultures are groups of similar cells isolated from animal and plant tissues. The scientific community widely uses these cell cultures to study the functions of cells and bacteria and to produce vaccines. The cells only have a life of around seven days, approximately, outside their usual environment. They then reach a stage known as senescence (less of a cell’s power of division and growth), where they lose the ability to reproduce and die.

On the other hand, senescence prevents cancerous tumors from forming because of the confluence between healthy and diseased cells, slowing down their growth. The senescence mechanism that can be observed in an experiment would necessarily imply a time greater than seven days. In this sense, how can we make a culture stay alive longer for experiments requiring time lapses like this? The answer is to make them ‘immortal.’

MBP Inc., providing molecular biology products like T75 flasks, filter tips, and others, will let you know the key characteristics of immortal or immortalized cell lines. Keep reading!

What is meant by Immortalized Cell Lines?

Immortalized cell lines are tumorous cells that do not halt dividing or have been artificially manipulated to proliferate open-endedly. Therefore, these cells can be cultured over several generations.

Characteristics of Immortalized Cell Lines

Cell lines can be subjected to the rule of ‘Hayflick limit.’ Leonard Hayflick, Professor of Anatomy and Medical Microbiology, developed this rule after finding that a group of normal cells reproduces a limited number of times and then discontinues reproducing.

On the other hand, some cell lines can be immortalized, as they can undergo some mutation, letting them reproduce indefinitely. The so-called HeLa cell line is a relevant example, which came out with cervical cancer cells taken from a woman during the 1950s.

Look at the key characteristics of immortalized cell lines now:

Deregulated Cells

The main characteristic of immortalized cell lines is the fact that the cell cycle is deregulated. It means the cell is constantly entering mitosis, which, of course, requires the synthesis of nucleic acids.

Nucleotide biosynthesis is vital in all cells since they are the key components of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). These metabolic pathways constitute de novo synthesis (the synthesis of complex molecules from simple molecules), in which nucleotides are formed from metabolic precursors, amino acids, ribose-5-phosphate, CO2 (carbon dioxide), and NH3 (ammonia). For its part, salvage synthesis recycles free bases and nucleosides released from the breakdown of nucleic acids.

Like normal human cells, many cells have recovery or salvage mechanisms carried out by the presence of transferase enzymes. Cells can be immortalized by injecting them with specific DNA or exposing them to radiation. This changes their behavior, causing them to reproduce uncontrollably, despite having reached a confluence, giving rise to cancer cells.

The cancerous factor may cause some apprehension, but cancer cells have uncontrolled and disorganized growth as their main characteristic. It is a characteristic allowing them to reproduce constantly and avoid death, making them “immortal cells.”

Survive indefinitely

Due to the deregulation of the immortalized cells, they survive indefinitely, which is the most prominent characteristic. An immortalized culture is produced when a normal human cell and a tumor cell are combined. It gives rise to a heterokaryon, a multinucleate cell containing genetically different nuclei.

Hybrid cells of this type are subjected to treatments with cultural fusion agents to generate immortalized cells. They are placed in a selective medium called HAT Medium (hypoxanthine-aminopterin-thymidine medium) to ensure this process. They are signs for synthesizing nucleic acids, and aminopterin, a drug acting as a blocker of de novo synthesis of nucleic acids.

As they can only perform de novo synthesis eventually, tumor cells will die because aminopterin will inhibit it. Normal human cells can perform both syntheses but only survive in a culture medium for a maximum of seven days. It assures us that only fused or immortalized cells survive in culture through salvage synthesis. And they can do it indefinitely.

Final Words

We hope this blog has helped you know the immortalized cell lines and their key characteristics, including their deregulation and indefinite survival.

MBP Inc. always posts informative blogs for our readers, and we always appreciate the comments you place on our blogs. And if you need high-quality molecular biology products, like 200ul, 100ul, and 20ul filter tips, cell culture flasks of all sizes, and others, you can contact us whenever you need our products!

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