Cytogenetic, genomic, and functional characterization of pituitary gonadotrope cell lines

Frederique Ruf-Zamojski, Yongchao Ge, Hanna Pincas, Jidong Shan, Yinghui Song, Nika Hines, Kevin Kelley, Cristina Montagna, Pranav Nair, Chirine Toufaily, Daniel J. Bernard, Pamela L. Mellon, Venugopalan Nair, Judith L. Turgeon, Stuart C. Sealfon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


LbT2 and aT3-1 are important, widely studied cell line models for the pituitary gonadotropes that were generated by targeted tumorigenesis in transgenic mice. LbT2 cells are more mature gonadotrope precursors than aT3-1 cells. Microsatellite authentication patterns, chromosomal characteristics, and their intercellular variation have not been reported. We performed microsatellite and cytogenetic analysis of both cell types at early passage numbers. Short tandem repeat (STR) profiling was consistent with a mixed C57BL/6J 3 BALB/cJ genetic background, with distinct patterns for each cell type. Spectral karyotyping in aT3-1 cells revealed cell-to-cell variation in chromosome composition and pseudodiploidy. In LbT2 cells, chromosome counting and karyotyping demonstrated pseudotriploidy and high chromosomal variation among cells. Chromosome copy number variation was confirmed by single-cell DNAsequencing. Chromosomal compositions were consistent with a male sex for aT3-1 and a female sex for LbT2 cells. Among LbT2 stocks used in multiple laboratories, we detected two genetically similar but distinguishable lines via STR authentication, LbT2a and LbT2b. The two lines differed in morphological appearance, with LbT2a having significantly smaller cell and nucleus areas. Analysis of immediate early gene and gonadotropin subunit gene expression revealed variations in basal expression and responses to continuous and pulsatile GnRH stimulation. LbT2a showed higher basal levels of Egr1, Fos, and Lhb but lower Fos induction. Fshb induction reached significance only in LbT2b cells. Our study highlights the heterogeneity in gonadotrope cell line genomes and provides reference STR authentication patterns that can be monitored to improve experimental reproducibility and facilitate comparisons of results within and across laboratories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-920
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Endocrine Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Gonadotrope cell lines
  • Karyotyping
  • LbT2
  • SC DNA sequencing
  • STR profiling
  • Transcriptional response to GnRH


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