Cell Culture

Growing Insect Cells Successfully

With Autumn, or Fall as some of you may call it, upon us everyone seems to back in action in the lab again and hopefully growing insect cells successfully.  Regular readers of these blogs will know that we frequently return to the question of how to propagate insect cells.  The reason for doing so is because growing insect cells successfully is fundamental to producing recombinant proteins using the baculovirus system. (more…)

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Storing Insect Cells at -80°C?

Every so often we are asked if storing insect cells at -80°C is a viable option if you haven’t got access to liquid nitrogen cryogenic facilities.  Our standard response is that this is not a good idea for long term storage of viable cells.  This is largely based on historical dogma that says that cells do not preserve their viability for long at these temperatures.  However, since one of our protocols for freezing insect cells involves an overnight cooling step in propanol in the -80°C we thought we would test the longevity of Sf21 cells left at this temperature for a little while longer.  (more…)

When to Passage Sf9 Cells

An important factor in baculovirus expression is assessing when to passage Sf9 cells, which are commonly used to make recombinant viruses or for protein production.  In our last blog we talked about how to make the transition from monolayer to suspension cultures and how maintain cells in a healthy state during this time. To define what is meant by ‘healthy’ cells,  Figure 1 shows a sample of healthy Sf9 cells which appear largely uniform in size and round. What doesn’t come across in a web-based image is how the cells have a ‘shiny’ appearance.  Although hard to define, when you see it you will recognize it! (more…)

Suspension Sf9 Cells from Monolayer Cultures

The transition to suspension Sf9 cells from monolayer cultures is not difficult but does depend on harvesting the attached cells at the right time. Too early and it is extremely hard to detach the cells from the culture flask. Too late and the cells will be in such poor condition that they may not recover when in suspension. Trying to describe in words how the monolayer culture should look prior to harvest is difficult. Therefore, we have prepared a series of images depicting Sf9 cells from just after they were dispensed into a monolayer culture to the point of harvest for transition to suspension. (more…)

Adapting Insect Cells to a New Growth Medium?

Have you ever had the experience of adapting insect cells to a new growth medium?  We recently had to do this for a client project because they had used a particular medium previously and were keen to maintain the same conditions to continue the work with us. This process made us realise that switching to a new serum-free insect cell culture medium can result in short term stress responses in the insect cells, which in this case were Sf9. (more…)

Sf9 Cells from Monolayers to Suspension Cultures

Transferring Sf9 cells from monolayers to suspension cultures can sometimes be difficult.  These insect cells, commonly employed for baculovirus-mediated expression, are usually kept growing in suspension culture.  However, sometimes monolayer cultures are used to keep them going during periods of low demand.  These cultures are also useful as a reserve or back up for the main suspension cultures, which even in the best laboratories can sometimes become contaminated with unwanted microbial visitors! (more…)

Healthy Cells Over the Holiday

For a follow up to our last blog we want to talk about maintaining healthy cells over the holiday period spanning Christmas and New Year.  Ok, if you are like our CEO you don’t really want to be thinking about the office Christmas party so early, but end of year is creeping up on us.  Most labs, academic and industry, will have some time off. It is often a problem keeping your cell cultures in good condition so that when you return in 2017 you can pick up that important protein expression project without too much delay.  Given that most insect cell lines (usually Spodoptera frugiperda or Trichoplusia ni cell lines) need to be sub cultured at least twice a week if they are grown as suspension/shake cultures, how will they survive for this protracted period? (more…)

Healthy Culture of Insect Cells

Following on from our last blog on the revival of cells stored in liquid nitrogen, we now provide some tips on the continued healthy culture of insect cells.  Whether you are maintaining cells as monolayer or suspension (shake or spinner) culture you will probably faithfully record your name/medium used/date of sub culture/passage number on the side of your new flask.  Alternatively, instead of using a new flask you may simply dilute the cells in their existing vessel and continue to culture them – more about this below.  A question that often vexes people is how many times a culture of cells should be sub cultured or passaged before they are no longer fit to use.  There is no simple answer to this question as it relates to the healthy culture of insect cells. (more…)

How healthy are your cells?

Hopefully after the seasonal break your insect cells are still in good health.  Recognizing healthy cells seems a no brainer, but if you haven’t got much experience with insect cells it can be more of a problem.  Experts often talk about “shiny appearances” and “well defined membranes”, which is fine if you know what they mean but puzzling if you are in your first foray into cell culture.  So to help you out, in this blog we provide some images of Sf9 cells in various conditions.  (more…)