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REFERENCE NO: AHC/1998/3/3.1/1.1


The utility of cytogenetic analysis as performed on continuous cell lines is twofold: first, cytogenetics supplies a precise written means of identification; and second, recurrent cytogenetic rearrangements established from primary diagnostic samples (the best known examples are from leukemias/lymphomas) provide a key with which to check lineage assignments and predict oncogenic changes at the molecular level in cell lines established from these tumors.

While closely following the guidelines for cytogenetic nomenclature set out in ISCN (1,2) a number of minor modifications to these conventions are forced on us by the nature and extent of rearrangements sometimes encountered among continuous cell lines. For clarity and ease of data manipulation, numerical changes are described separately from, and precede, structural changes. Want of space necessitates omission of isochromosome breakpoint designations - mitigated (we hope) by the redundancy of an invariant term. We have resisted the proposal made in (1,2) to end the conceptually and descriptively useful distinction between "plain" homogeneously staining regions, hsr, and "fancy" abnormally banded regions, abr, (suggesting amplification and co-amplification, respectively). Parentheses following modal chromosome numbers surround upper and lower ranges of chromosome counts (ignoring broken or heteroploid cells).

Please note that the cytogenetic information in this catalogue is provided to assist customers. Given that cases of mistaken identity among cell lines are distressingly common (3), karyotypes apply to cell lines supplied by the DSMZ and never to those obtained elsewhere. Written permission must be obtained before (wholesale) copying of DSMZ karyotypes.

The DSMZ Catalogue of Human and Animal Cell Lines follows standard nomenclature systems (1,2). Some frequently used abbreviations are explained as follows: abr, abnormally banded region; cen, centromere; colon single (:), break (in detailed descriptions); colon double (::), breakage and reunion (in detailed description); add, additional material of unknown origin; del, deletion; der, derivative chromosome; dic, dicentric; dir, direct; dmin, double minute; dup, duplication; hsr, homogeneously staining region; ins, insertion; inv, inversion; mar, marker chromosome; min, minute; minus (-), loss of; p, short arm; Ph, Philadelphia chromosome; plus (+), gain of; psu, pseudo; q, long arm; question mark (?), questionable chromosome identification; r, ring chromosome; rcp, reciprocal; s, satellite; semicolon (;), separates chromosomes/regions in structural rearrangements involving more than one chromosome; t, translocation; ter, terminal.


  1. Harnden DG, Klinger HP: An international system for human cytogenetic nomenclature. Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics. Basel (1985).
  2. Mitelman F (ed): ISCN: Guidelines for Cancer Cytogenetics. Supplement to an International System for Human Cytogenetic Nomenclature. Basel, S. Karger (1991).
  3. MacLeod RAF, Dirks WG, Reid YA, Hay RJ, Drexler HG: Identity of original and late-passage Dami megakaryocytes with HEL erythroleukemia cells shown by combined cytogenetics and DNA fingerprinting. Leukemia 11: 2032-2038 (1997).

Guidelines prepared for CABRI by CERDIC, DSMZ, ECACC, INRC, November 1998
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