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PLoS One. 2015 Apr 30;10(4):e0125622. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125622. eCollection 2015.

Prevalence and characterization of murine leukemia virus contamination in human cell lines.

Author information

  • 1Department of Human and Animal Cell Lines, Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, Braunschweig, Germany.
  • 2Institute for Clinical Transfusion Medicine, Municipal Hospital, Braunschweig, Germany.

Abstract

Contaminations of cell cultures with microbiological organisms are well documented and can be managed in cell culture laboratories applying reliable detection, elimination and prevention strategies. However, the presence of viral contaminations in cell cultures is still a matter of debate and cannot be determined with general detection methods. In the present study we screened 577 human cell lines for the presence of murine leukemia viruses (MLV). Nineteen cell lines were found to be contaminated with MLV, including 22RV1 which is contaminated with the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus variant of MLV. Of these, 17 cell lines were shown to produce active retroviruses determined by product enhanced reverse transcriptase PCR assay for reverse transcriptase activity. The contaminated cell lines derive from various solid tumor types as well as from leukemia and lymphoma types. A contamination of primary human cells from healthy volunteers could not be substantiated. Sequence analyses of 17 MLV PCR products and five complete MLV genomes of different infected cell lines revealed at least three groups of related MLV genotypes. The viruses harvested from the supernatants of infected cell cultures were infectious to uninfected cell cultures. In the course of the study we found that contamination of human genomic DNA preparations with murine DNA can lead to false-positive results. Presumably, xenotransplantations of the human tumor cells into immune-deficient mice to determine the tumorigenicity of the cells are mainly responsible for the MLV contaminations. Furthermore, the use of murine feeder layer cells during the establishment of human cell lines and a cross-contamination with MLV from infected cultures might be sources of infection. A screening of cell cultures for MLV contamination is recommended given a contamination rate of 3.3%.

PMID:
25927683
PMCID:
PMC4416031
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0125622
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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