Primary cells undergo a finite number of population doublings and reach a state called replicative senescence after a certain number of divisions that limit the proliferation of aged or damaged cells. In order to make primary cell lines continue to grow and divide indefinitely in vitro, an immortalization process is applied to primary cells to significantly prolong their lifespan. Immortalized cells are important models for studies in cell biology, cellular metabolism, and differentiation; and can be used for research in cancer biology, immunology, neurology, hematology, and more.
SV40T – The most reliable and simplest way to immortalize many types of primary cells. The viral gene SV40 large T antigen is introduced into primary cells to override the cell cycle by inactivating tumor suppressor genes that induce cellular senescence.
hTERT – One of the most popular approaches to cell immortalization. The telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) protein is inactive in most somatic cells, causing the length of telomeres to shorten with age, leading to senescence. Expression of hTERT prevents the telomere from being truncated during cell division, thus cells are able to avoid replicative senescence.
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