Cell Cultures from Marine Invertebrates: New Insights for Capturing Endless Stemness

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Despite several decades of extensive research efforts, there is yet no single permanent cell line available from marine invertebrates as these cells stop dividing in vitro within 24-72 h after their isolation, starting cellular quiescence. This ubiquitous quiescent state should be modified in a way that at least some of the quiescent cells will become pluripotent, so they will have the ability to divide and become immortal. Following the above need, this essay introduces the rationale that the discipline of marine invertebrates' cell culture should gain from applying of two research routes, relevant to mammalian systems but less explored in the marine arena. The first is the use of adult stem cells (ASC) from marine organisms. Many marine invertebrate taxa maintain large pools of ASC in adulthood. Ample evidence attests that these cells from sponges, cnidarians, flatworms, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, and ascidians play important roles in maintenance, regeneration, and asexual cloning, actively proliferating in vivo, resembling the vertebrates' cancer stem cells features. The second route is to target resting somatic cell constituents, manipulating them in the same way as has recently been performed on mammalian induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. While "iPS cells" are the outcome of an experimental manipulation, ASC are natural and rather frequent in a number of marine invertebrates. Above two cell categories reveal that there are more than a few types of seeds (cells) waiting to be sowed in the right soil (in vitro environmental conditions) for acquiring stemness and immortality. This rationale carries the potential to revolutionize the discipline of marine invertebrate cell cultures. When cultured "correctly," ASC and "iPS cells" from marine invertebrates may stay in their primitive stage and proliferate without differentiating into cells lineages, harnessing the stem cell's inherent abilities of self-replication versus differentiated progenies, toward the development of immortal cell lines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell cultures
  • Dedifferentiation
  • Marine invertebrates
  • Stem cells
  • iPS cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Aquatic Science


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