For decades, human immortal cancer cell lines have constituted an accessible, easily usable set of biological models with which to investigate cancer biology and to explore the potential efficacy of anticancer drugs. However, cancer cell lines have been subject to criticism because they may represent a highly selected subgroup of the cancer classes from which they have been derived and may have acquired additional genetic abnormalities in vitro. Moreover, certain cancer cell lines are known to have contaminated others and thus the provenance of a cancer cell line is not always clear.
In order to improve their utility the Cancer Genome Project has embarked on a systematic characterisation of the genetics and genomics of large numbers of cancer cell lines. Prior knowledge of their genetic abnormalities may allow more informed choice of cancer cell lines in biological experiments and drug testing and more informed interpretation of results.
We have assembled a large series of cancer cell lines from major publicly accessible repositories around the world. From this series we have selected a set of more than 600 lines for detailed analysis. This set has been designed to encompass a broad range of tumour types. It includes most cell lines that have been used extensively in cancer research, including the NCI-60 set which can be viewed separately.
The coding exons and immediate flanking intron sequences of selected genes from the Cancer Gene Census are being sequenced. The absence of a mutation indicates the DNA sequence for the gene of interest was wildtype in the sequencing screen in the version of the cell line in our collection or we have yet to generate suitable quality data.
You can subscribe to our email list if you want to be informed when we update this information. In addition we welcome suggestions. For example, useful cell lines that are not in our current set, genes that would provide further utility to the data and other types of genetic characterisation.