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Genetic and Molecular Characterization of the Immortalized Murine Hepatic Stellate Cell Line GRX

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  • Sarah K. Schröder, RWTH Aachen University
  • ,
  • Herdit M. Schüler, RWTH Aachen University
  • ,
  • Kamilla V. Petersen
  • ,
  • Cinzia Tesauro
  • Birgitta R. Knudsen
  • Finn S. Pedersen
  • ,
  • Frederike Krus, RWTH Aachen University
  • ,
  • Eva M. Buhl, RWTH Aachen University
  • ,
  • Elke Roeb, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • ,
  • Martin Roderfeld, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • ,
  • Radovan Borojevic, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
  • ,
  • Jamie L. Almeida, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • ,
  • Ralf Weiskirchen, RWTH Aachen University

The murine cell line GRX has been introduced as an experimental tool to study aspects of hepatic stellate cell biology. It was established from livers of C3H/HeN mice that were infected with cercariae of Schistosoma mansoni. Although these cells display a myofibroblast phenotype, they can accumulate intracellular lipids and acquire a fat-storing lipocyte phenotype when treated with retinol, insulin, and indomethacin. We have performed genetic characterization of GRX and established a multi-loci short tandem repeat (STR) signature for this cell line that includes 18 mouse STR markers. Karyotyping further revealed that this cell line has a complex genotype with various chromosomal aberrations. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that GRX cells produce large quantities of viral particles belonging to the gammaretroviral genus of the Retroviridae family as assessed by next generation mRNA sequencing and Western blot analysis. Rolling-circle-enhanced-enzyme-activity detection (REEAD) revealed the absence of retroviral integrase activity in cell culture supernatants, most likely as a result of tetherin-mediated trapping of viral particles at the cell surface. Furthermore, staining against schistosome gut-associated circulating anodic antigens and cercarial O-and GSL-glycans showed that the cell line lacks S. mansoni-specific glycostructures. Our findings will now help to fulfill the recommendations for cellular authentications required by many granting agencies and scientific journals when working with GRX cells. Moreover, the definition of a characteristic STR profile will increase the value of GRX cells in research and provides an important benchmark to identify intra-laboratory cell line heterogeneity, discriminate between different mouse cell lines, and to avoid misinterpretation of experimental findings by usage of misidentified or cross-contaminated cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1504
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • 3R principle, authentication, cell line, cross-contamination, genotyping, hepatic stellate cells, liver, myofibroblasts, retinol, STR profiling

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