Mouse Immortal Melanocyte and Melanoblast Cell Lines

St George’s, University of London Background
These immortal melanocyte lines are held in the Wellcome Trust Functional Genomics Cell Bank at St George’s. This unique Cell Bank specializes in mouse melanocyte and melanoblast lines carrying a wide range of pigmentary mutations. Other cell types include mouse and human melanoma cells, fibroblasts, mouse neural crest stem cells, keratinocytes, and several differentiating cell types. The cells from the bank are available to research groups in any country.
Technology Overview
The researchers at St George’s have specialized in generating a matched set of mostly congenic melanocyte lines [melan-xx] carrying different pigmentary mutations, by crossing the mouse mutant of interest with Cdkn2a-null mice (usually to homozygosity) before explantation. Cdkn2a-null cells do not senesce, so that the primary diploid melanocyte cultures are already immortal and do not have to acquire mutations in order to establish in culture.
Accordingly, these lines are expected to be still diploid, highly homogeneous, and differing from strain control lines only by the mutation of interest, enabling rigorous testing of hypotheses for functional defects due to the mutation, and removing the need to use animals. The team at St George’s offer advice on the protocols needed to grow and cryopreserve differentiated mouse melanocytes.
The researchers have also derived melanoblast (melanocyte precursor) lines from neonatal mouse epidermis [melb-xx] by developing suitable media in which these cells will grow.
Some popular cell lines are shown below.
Melanocytes: All the following melanocyte lines are on the C57BL/6J mouse strain background and therefore have genotype a/a. All are also Cdkn2a null as well as any other listed mutation, so melan-Ink4a-Arf1 to -4 are syngeneic control lines.

Melanoblasts: This unpigmented precursor line is also C57BL/6J (a/a) but spontaneously established in culture rather than with an initial Cdkn2a deletion. Valuable for studying cell differentiation and normal cell migration (melanoblasts are naturally migratory cells). The control melanocyte line is melan-a2, derived by cell differentiation from melb-a.

Further Details:

Sviderskaya, E.V. et al. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 94, 446-454 (2002).
Plowright, L., PhD thesis (University of London)
Hida T et al, Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 22, 623-634 (2009).
Plowright, L., PhD thesis (University of London)
Sviderskaya, E.V. et al. Development 121, 1547-1557 (1995)
Sviderskaya, E.V. et al. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 94, 446-454 (2002).
Sviderskaya, E.V. et al. Development 121, 1547-1557 (1995).

Melanocytes derived from mice with pigmentary mutations provide a leading model system for studying diverse and fundamental areas of gene action and interaction. The mouse is the animal of choice among mammals for genetic analysis, with its fully sequenced genome, inbred strains and the vast database of functional information from mutant and genetically manipulated stocks (Mouse Genome Informatics, ).
Melanocyte and melanoblast lines are used in research on topics including:

Cell differentiation
Organelle biosynthesis and transport
Protein transport
Growth control
Many others

Some examples of interest are listed here. See the Cell Bank website for more detail and more lines.

Available for non-commercial research purposes

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