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Evaluating the influence of selection markers on obtaining selected pools and stable cell lines in human cells

Author(s): Lanza AM, Kim DS, Alper HS

Abstract

Selection markers are common genetic elements used in recombinant cell line development. While several selection systems exist for use in mammalian cell lines, no previous study has comprehensively evaluated their performance in the isolation of recombinant populations and cell lines. Here we examine four antibiotics, hygromycin B, neomycin, puromycin, and Zeocin™, and their corresponding selector genes, using a green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a reporter in two model cell lines, HT1080 and HEK293. We identify Zeocin™ as the best selection agent for cell line development in human cells. In comparison to the other selection systems, Zeocin™ is able to identify populations with higher fluorescence levels, which in turn leads to the isolation of better clonal populations and less false positives. Furthermore, Zeocin™-resistant populations exhibit better transgene stability in the absence of selection pressure compared to other selection agents. All isolated Zeocin™-resistant clones, regardless of cell type, exhibited GFP expression. By comparison, only 79% of hygromycin B-resistant, 47% of neomycin-resistant, and 14% of puromycin-resistant clones expressed GFP. Based on these results, we rank Zeocin™ > hygromycin B ∼ puromycin > neomycin for cell line development in human cells. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that selection marker choice does indeed impact cell line development.

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