Mouse Motor Neuron-Like Hybrid Cell Line (NSC-34)
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Much research has been undertaken to develop and assess in vitro models of neurotoxicity. Primary culture models include organotypic and dissociated embryonic or newborn tissue. The key advantage of primary culture is that the cells develop morphologically and physiologically over time to resemble their in situ counterparts. The main disadvantage is that these neurons require several days in culture to develop and then cannot be serially passaged. Many tumour cell lines have also been assessed. Yet, while these cells are much more convenient than primary culture, their predictive ability of neurotoxicity depends on whether or not those cells express the relevant target for a particular neurotoxicant. Therefore, in an effort to produce cells that not only retain neuronal properties but also proliferate, primary neurons have been fused with tumour lines.
NSC-34 is one such hybrid cell line, produced by fusion of motor neuron enriched, embryonic mouse spinal cord cells with mouse neuroblastoma. Cultures contain two populations of cells: small, undifferentiated cells that have the capacity to undergo cell division and larger, multi-nucleate cells. These cells express many properties of motor neurons, including choline acetyltransferase, acetylcholine synthesis, storage and release and neurofilament triplet proteins.
NSC-34 cells have been evaluated following exposure of cultures to a selection of chemicals known to be neurotoxic to motor neurons. NSC-34 cells respond to agents that affect voltage-gated ion channels, cytoskeletal organization and axonal transport. The sensitivity of action potential production to various ion channel blockers is similar to that in primary motor neurons in culture. Therefore these immortalized motor neuron-like cells have utility as a model for the investigation of neurotoxicity.
Differentiation-related alterations in murine neuronal cells, NSC-34. (A) NSC-34. NSC-34 contains small cells derived from mouse motor neurons and large multinucleated cells derived from mouse neuroblastoma cells. (B) Differentiated NSC-34. Small cells with extended neuronal processes . (Hiroi et al (2011). Acta Histochem Cytochem. 44(2) 91-101.)