Date added: 04/10/2017 Cell line authentication primer in PLOS Biology


Cell line authentication primer in PLOS Biology

Identity Crisis

Credit: Capes-Davis A, Neve RM

Many journals refer to “authentication testing”, “STR profiling”, and “cell line misidentification” in their author guidelines. But what do they mean? Why do Nature, PLOS, and other journals require authentication testing?

A 2016 article in PLOS Biology is a primer that explains cell line authentication, STR profiling, and why misidentification continues to be a problem.

As the primer observes, there is no guarantee that the name on a culture flask or vial corresponds to the cell line inside. Good cell culture practice reduces the risk but cannot eliminate it entirely. Cell lines need to be authenticated using a genotype-based test method.

The primer was released alongside a perspective article on the importance of standards for cell line authentication ( The authentication testing community has agreed on a consensus method for testing human cell lines, allowing cell lines to be compared between laboratories.

STR profiling is the consensus method used for human cell line authentication. CellBank Australia performs testing in accordance with standard requirements, and has expertise to interpret challenging samples – for example, cell lines that display marked genetic drift due to microsatellite instability.