Adherent and suspension baby hamster kidney cells have a different cytoskeleton and surface receptor repertoire
Animal cell culture, with single cells growing in suspension, ideally in a chemically defined environment, is a mainstay of biopharmaceutical production. The synthetic environment lacks exogenous growth factors and usually requires a time-consuming adaptation process to select cell clones that proliferate in suspension to high cell numbers. The molecular mechanisms that facilitate the adaptation and that take place inside the cell are largely unknown. Especially for cell lines that are used for virus antigen production such as baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells, the restriction of virus growth through the evolution of undesired cell characteristics is highly unwanted. The comparison between adherently growing BHK cells and suspension cells with different susceptibility to foot-and-mouth disease virus revealed differences in the expression of cellular receptors such as integrins and heparan sulfates, and in the organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Transcriptome analyses and growth kinetics demonstrated the diversity of BHK cell lines and confirmed the importance of well-characterized parental cell clones and mindful screening to make sure that essential cellular features do not get lost during adaptation.