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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2012 Aug;48(7):426-33. doi: 10.1007/s11626-012-9524-x. Epub 2012 Jun 30.

A cell line derived from the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae).

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Agricultural Research Service, Biological Control of Insects Research Laboratory, USDA, Columbia, MO 65203, USA.


The red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, is a model organism for agricultural and medical research and its complete genome is sequenced. We established a continuously replicating T. castaneum cell line to complement existing physiological, genetic, and genomic research tools. We set up trial cell cultures from egg, pupa, and adult stages as tissue sources and incubated them in six separate cell culture media to determine the optimal combination of tissue source and medium for cell replication. Our most promising culture was generated by co-culturing adult (∼75 %) and pupal tissues in EX-CELL 420 medium containing 9 % FBS. Our new cell culture is designated BCIRL-TcA-CLG1 (TcA) and it has been subcultured more than 90 times. Amplification of genomic DNA with species-specific primers yielded DNA fragments of the expected sizes and with sequences identical to those from the published Tribolium genome. Additionally, we characterized this line using DNA fingerprinting (DAF-PCR) and compared it with three other coleopteran cell lines and its conspecific pupae to confirm identity. Its doubling time is 155.2 hr. Early passages consisted of attached cells and vesicles in suspension, whereas later passages consisted primarily of attached, spherical cells. Similar to other established cell lines, the ploidy of TcA cells was variable, ranging from 20 chromosomes/cell (diploid) to above 30 chromosomes/cell. TcA cells withstood incubation at 40°C for 1 h with no decrease in viability. We recorded increased levels of one heat shock protein (43 kDa) and of the hsp68a transcript following exposure to 40°C. Taken together, this represents the first report of a continuously replicating T. castaneum cell line. We expect the BCIRL-TcA-CLG1 line will become a useful tool in Tribolium research.

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