Lewerentz J, Johansson AM, Stenberg P
Exp. Cell Res. 422 (1) 113431 [2023-01-01; online 2022-11-21]
The genomes of immortalized cell lines (and cancer cells) are characterized by multiple types of aberrations, ranging from single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to structural rearrangements that have accumulated over time. Consequently, it is difficult to estimate the relative impact of different aberrations, the order of events, and which gene functions were under selective pressure at the early stage towards cellular immortalization. Here, we have established novel cell cultures derived from Drosophila melanogaster embryos that were sampled at multiple time points over a one-year period. Using short-read DNA sequencing, we show that copy-number gain in preferentially stress-related genes were acquired in a dominant fraction of cells in 300-days old cultures. Furthermore, transposable elements were active in cells of all cultures. Only a few (<1%) SNPs could be followed over time, and these showed no trend to increase or decrease. We conclude that the early cellular responses of a novel culture comprise sequence duplication and transposable element activity. During immortalization, positive selection first occurs on genes that are related to stress response before shifting to genes that are related to growth.