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Notice for users of MOLT-17 cell line

We regret to inform that MOLT-17 (RCB1982) which our cell bank has previously provided was a misidentified cell line, i.e., a false cell line. We are very sorry for this fact.

Previously, biologists have shared many cell lines freely in the community. As a result, no one knows how a certain cell line has spread in the world. Therefore, identity of one cell line must be confirmed by comparing to all other cell lines present around the world in order to eliminate the misidentified false cell lines. For such purpose, major cell banks around the world are now collaborating to establish common data base for the results of short tandem repeat (STR) polymorphism analysis (References 1-6) which can detect the misidentified cell lines. It is still at a beginning phase. Please refer to the following page.


Our MOLT-17 (RCB1982) has been deposited from another cell bank in Japan (Tohoku University) when it has stopped its cell bank work. We have analyzed MOLT-17 (RCB1982) with STR polymorphism analysis and confirmed that it was an independent cell line among all human cell lines in our cell bank.

A cell bank in Germany, DSMZ, has also provided MOLT-17. Most recently, both cell banks noticed by the common data base that the results of STR polymorphism analysis were different between that of our MOLT-17 (RCB1982) and DSMZ’s MOLT-17 (ACC36).

DSMZ’s MOLT-17 (ACC36) has been deposited directly from the biologist who had established MOLT-17. In addition, the result of STR polymorphism analysis of DSMZ’s MOLT-17 (ACC36) was identical to that of MOLT-16 (ACC29) which is a sub-line of MOLT-17 and has been deposited in DSMZ. Therefore, we concluded that DSMZ’s MOLT-17 (ACC36) is a true line and our MOLT-17 (RCB1982) is a misidentified false cell line. We stopped provision of MOLT-17 (RCB1982). At the moment, we don’t know the origin of our MOLT-17 (RCB1982). Therefore, we are very sorry but please do not use our MOLT-17 (RCB1982) any more as MOLT-17.

The result of STR polymorphism analysis performed in the depositor institute (Tohoku University) was identical to that of us. Therefore, the misidentification of our MOLT-17 (RCB1982) has already occurred before deposition to our cell bank. Neither the depositor (Tohoku University) nor we could possibly know that there was misidentification of the cell line at the time of deposition.

We recognize that misidentification of cell lines might cause serious scientific damage. It is our hope that the damage is a minimum for your research.


  1. Masters, J.R. et al. Short tandem repeat profiling provides an international reference standard for human cell lines. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98: 8012-8017 (2001)
  2. Yoshino, K. et al. Essential role for gene profiling analysis in the authentication of human cell lines. Hum. Cell 19: 43-48 (2006)
  3. Cases of mistaken identity. Science 315: 928-931 (2007)
  4. Identity crisis. Nature 457: 935-936 (2009)
  5. Katsnelson, A. Biologists tackle cells’ identity crisis. Nature 465: 537 (2010)
  6. Masters, J.R., et al. End the scandal of false cell lines. Nature 492: 186 (2012)

Yukio NAKAMURA, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of the Cell Engineering Division
RIKEN BioResource Center
Koyadai 3-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0074, Japan
URL: http://www.brc.riken.jp/lab/cell/english/
E-mail: cellqa.brcriken.jp
FAX: 81-29-836-9049