BEAS-2B is a non-malignant, immortalized human cell line that has been used extensively as a model of lung epithelium. Despite ATCC recommendations to culture BEAS-2B in defined, serum-free media, many publications describe culturing BEAS-2B in fetal bovine serum (FBS)-containing media. The objective of this study was to define the effects of FBS on BEAS-2B cells. FBS exposure resulted in increased nuclear levels of transcription factors responsible for regulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), increased cell invasiveness and increased anchorage-independent growth. FBS-exposed BEAS-2B cells exhibited a decrease of the epithelial markers, E-cadherin and claudin-1 at the mRNA and protein levels, along with a corresponding increase of the mesenchymal marker, vimentin, at the protein level. Fractionation studies implicated an active moiety in FBS with a molecular weight larger than 30 kD. The mesenchymal phenotype was persistent provided FBS exposure was maintained. Upon FBS removal, both epithelial and mesenchymal markers began to revert toward an epithelial phenotype. Transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) exposure to BEAS-2B recapitulated some key features of FBS-induced EMT. Our data suggest that FBS-exposed BEAS-2B cells do not accurately model the epithelial phenotype. Interpretation of data from BEAS-2B should include careful consideration of the effect of culture conditions.
- Cell culture
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
ASJC Scopus subject areas