Publication — IRIC
Major multilevel molecular divergence between THP-1 cells from different biorepositories.
The THP-1 cell line is broadly used as a model for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with MLL fusion and to study monocyte differentiation and function. We studied THP-1 cells obtained from two major biorepositories. The two cell lines were closely related with a percentage match of short tandem repeat (STR) profiles ranging from 93.75% to 100%, depending on the algorithm used. Nevertheless, we found that the two cell lines presented discordant HLA type, cytogenetic aberrations and AML-related gene expression (including critical targets of MLL fusion). These discrepancies resulted mainly from loss of heterozygosity (LOH) involving five chromosomal regions. In view of their aberrant expression of key “leukemia” genes (e.g., LIN28B, MEIS1 and SPARC), we argue that one of the THP-1 cell lines may not be a reliable model for studying leukemia. Their defective expression of HLA molecules and abnormal adhesion properties is also a caveat for studies of antigen presentation. In a more general perspective, our findings show that seemingly minor discrepancies in STR profiles among cell lines may be the sign of major genetic drift, of sufficient magnitude to affect the reliability of cell line-based research.