Asked 10th Oct, 2018

STR analysis for cell line authentication - Anyone experienced with ?

Hi Everyone,
can anyone tell me if there is any issue with reliability for STR analysis when authenticating a cell line?

All Answers (3)

Amos Bairoch
University of Geneva
It all depend on what you mean by "reliability": good STR profiling services will send you not only the allele assignments for all the markers that they have tested (currently most companies/services will report on 18 markers) but they will also send you the chromatograms which can help you pinpoint potential minor alleles. So all this is quite "reliable": but then the interpretation of these results may be, in some cases, ambiguous: many cell lines STR profiles were reported with 8+1 (amelogenin) markers and "your" cell line could well have many hits with one of these cell lines without being identical or derived from it. In addition some cancer cell lines can drift quite quickly and loose alleles compared to the "original" stock.
But if your are comparing a cell line you are using with what should be the "original" one you will generally have no issue determining if it is the right one. Similarly contamination with known frequent contaminants (HeLa, HT-29, K-562, T24) are rather easy to diagnose.
Just make sure to make use of a well established cell line authentication service, which is not a problem in Germany, home of the DSMZ and CLS cell line collections which both offer such services.
PS: While there is not yet a tool to search and compare STR profiles, you can use the Cellosaurus ( to look up STR profiles for more than 5,500 human cell lines
Thales De Paula Ribeiro
German Cancer Research Center
Thank you very much for your detailed answer Dr. Bairoch. It was really helpful.
Amos Bairoch
University of Geneva
To complete my answer from last year, there is now a STR similarity search tool for the Cellosaurus. It is available at:

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