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Phenotypic Characterization of Human Chondrocyte Cell Line C-20/A4: A Comparison between Monolayer and Alginate Suspension Culture


Schorle C, Söder S, Zien,  A
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Finger, F., Schorle C, Söder S, Zien, A., Goldring, M., & Aigner, T. (2004). Phenotypic Characterization of Human Chondrocyte Cell Line C-20/A4: A Comparison between Monolayer and Alginate Suspension Culture. Cells Tissues Organs, 178(2), 65-77.

DNA microarray analysis was used to investigate the molecular phenotype of one of the first human chondrocyte cell lines, C-20/A4, derived from juvenile costal chondrocytes by immortalization with origin-defective simian virus 40 large T antigen. Clontech Human Cancer Arrays 1.2 and quantitative PCR were used to examine gene expression profiles of C-20/A4 cells cultured in the presence of serum in monolayer and alginate beads. In monolayer cultures, genes involved in cell proliferation were strongly upregulated compared to those expressed by human adult articular chondrocytes in primary culture. Of the cell cycle-regulated genes, only two, the CDK regulatory subunit and histone H4, were downregulated after culture in alginate beads, consistent with the ability of these cells to proliferate in suspension culture. In contrast, the expression of several genes that are involved in pericellular matrix formation, including MMP-14, COL6A1, fibronectin, biglycan and decorin, was upregulated when the C-20/A4 cells were transferred to suspension culture in alginate. Also, nexin-1, vimentin, and IGFBP-3, which are known to be expressed by primary chondrocytes, were differentially expressed in our study. Consistent with the proliferative phenotype of this cell line, few genes involved in matrix synthesis and turnover were highly expressed in the presence of serum. These results indicate that immortalized chondrocyte cell lines, rather than substituting for primary chondrocytes, may serve as models for extending findings on chondrocyte function not achievable by the use of primary chondrocytes.