The CGL1 (HeLa × Normal Skin Fibroblast) Human Hybrid Cell Line: A History of Ionizing Radiation Induced Effects on Neoplastic Transformation and Novel Future Directions in SNOLAB
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Cellular transformation assays have been utilized for many years as powerful in vitro methods for examining neoplastic transformation potential/frequency and mechanisms of carcinogenesis for both chemical and radiological carcinogens. These mouse and human cell based assays are labor intensive but do provide quantitative information on the numbers of neoplastically transformed foci produced after carcinogenic exposure and potential molecular mechanisms involved. Several mouse and human cell systems have been generated to undertake these studies, and they vary in experimental length and endpoint assessment. The CGL1 human cell hybrid neoplastic model is a non-tumorigenic pre-neoplastic cell that was derived from the fusion of HeLa cervical cancer cells and a normal human skin fibroblast. It has been utilized for the several decades to study the carcinogenic/neoplastic transformation potential of a variety of ionizing radiation doses, dose rates and radiation types, including UV, X ray, gamma ray, neutrons, protons and alpha particles. It is unique in that the CGL1 assay has a relatively short assay time of 18-21 days, and rather than relying on morphological endpoints to detect neoplastic transformation utilizes a simple staining method that detects the tumorigenic marker alkaline phosphatase on the neoplastically transformed cells cell surface. In addition to being of human origin, the CGL1 assay is able to detect and quantify the carcinogenic potential of very low doses of ionizing radiation (in the mGy range), and utilizes a neoplastic endpoint (re-expression of alkaline phosphatase) that can be detected on both viable and paraformaldehyde fixed cells. In this article, we review the history of the CGL1 neoplastic transformation model system from its initial development through the wide variety of studies examining the effects of all types of ionizing radiation on neoplastic transformation. In addition, we discuss the potential of the CGL1 model system to investigate the effects of near zero background radiation levels available within the radiation biology lab we have established in SNOLAB.