General Information

Source of the MCF-7 cell line:

MCF-7 is a cell line that was first isolated in 1970 from the breast tissue of a 69-year old Caucasian woman. Of the two mastectomies she received, the first revealed the removed tissue to be benign. Five years later, a second operation revealed malignant adenocarcinoma in a pleural effusion from which was taken cells for MCF-7. The woman was treated for breast cancer with radiotheraphy and hormonotherapy.

MCF-7 cell cultureMCF-7 cell culture

Copyright picture from Reproduced with permission from Altogen Biosystems.

Uses for the MCF-7:

MCF-7 cells are useful for in vitro breast cancer studies because the cell line has retained several ideal characteristics particular to the mammary epithelium. These include the ability for MCF-7 cells to process estrogen, in the form of estradiol, via estrogen receptors in the cell cytoplasm. This makes the MCF-7 cell line an estrogen receptor (ER) positive control cell line.

Characteristics of MCF-7:

In addition to retaining their estrogen sensitivity, MCF-7 cells are also sensitive to cytokeratin. They are unreceptive to desmin, endothelin, GAP, and vimentin. When grown in vitro, the cell line is capable of forming domes and the epithelial like cells grow in monolayers. Growth can be inhibited using tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), and treatment of MCF-7 cancer cells with anti-estrogens can modulate insulin-like growth factor finding protein’s, which ultimately have the effect of a reduction in cell growth.

Stability of cell line:

Genetically, the MCF-7 line has not been maintained exactly. Originally, it was described as having a karyotype containing 85 chromosomes, which has since been reduced by 16 chromosomes. Today’s cell line has a karyotype containing 69 chromosomes. Furthermore, there are genetic discrepancies between the MCF-7 cell line from the Michigan Cancer Foundation and the ATCC cell line. This indicates that the ATCC cell line is of a different source than the other MCF-7 cell lines.


Lab Techniques, Protocols, and Research Methods

MCF-7 cell line (Wikipedia)

Berkeley Lab MCF7 Breast Cancer Cell Line

DSMZ cell line data on MCF-7

Stable Cell Line Generation Services