Cancer cell lines can be useful to model cancer stem cells. Infection with Mycoplasma species is an insidious problem in mammalian cell culture. While investigating stem-like properties in early passage melanoma cell lines, we noted poorly reproducible results from an aliquot of a cell line that was later found to be infected with Mycoplasma hyorhinis. Deliberate infection of other early passage melanoma cell lines aliquots induced variable and unpredictable effects on expression of putative cancer stem cell markers, clonogenicity, proliferation and global gene expression. Cell lines established in stem cell media (SCM) were equally susceptible. Mycoplasma status is rarely reported in publications using cultured cells to study the cancer stem cell hypothesis. Our work highlights the importance of surveillance for Mycoplasma infection while using any cultured cells to interrogate tumor heterogeneity.
- Cancer cell lines, CD133
- Cancer stem cells