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Molluscan cells in culture: primary cell cultures and cell lines 1

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In vitro cell culture systems from molluscs have significantly contributed to our basic understanding of complex physiological processes occurring within or between tissue-specific cells, yielding information unattainable using intact animal models. In vitro cultures of neuronal cells from gastropods show how simplified cell models can inform our understanding of complex networks in intact organisms. Primary cell cultures from marine and freshwater bivalve and gastropod species are used as biomonitors for environmental contaminants, as models for gene transfer technologies, and for studies of innate immunity and neoplastic disease. Despite efforts to isolate proliferative cell lines from molluscs, the snail Biomphalaria glabrata (Say, 1818) embryonic (Bge) cell line is the only existing cell line originating from any molluscan species. Taking an organ systems approach, this review summarizes efforts to establish molluscan cell cultures and describes the varied applications of primary cell cultures in research. Because of the unique status of the Bge cell line, an account is presented of the establishment of this cell line, and of how these cells have contributed to our understanding of snail host – parasite interactions. Finally, we detail the difficulties commonly encountered in efforts to establish cell lines from molluscs and discuss how these difficulties might be overcome.

Keywords: Biomphalaria glabrata Bge cell line; Mollusca; cell line; culture primaire de cellules; in vitro; lignée cellulaire; lignée cellulaire Bge de Biomphalaria glabrata; mollusques; primary cell culture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin, School of Veterinary Medicine, 2115 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA. 2: Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, 1685 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, USA. 3: Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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