We devised a unique new single-cell cloning method which uses microscope cover glasses and established a melanoblast cell line derived from mouse neural crest cells. A microscope cover glass was nicked and broken into small pieces and put on a dish. Culture medium and a suspension of 20-30 cells/ml were dropped in the dish. After 1-3 d, a piece of glass to which only one cell was adhered was picked up and transferred to another dish containing culture medium. The greatest advantage of this method is that the derivation of a colony from a single cell can be directly confirmed by microscopy and there is no risk of migratory cells being contaminated by other colonies. Using this single-cell cloning method, in this study we established a cell line derived from a neural crest cell line (NCC-S4.1) and designated it as NCCmelh4. When the culture medium was supplemented with stem cell factor (SCF) alone, NCCmelb4 cells were KIT-positive and tyrosinase-negative melanocyte precursors; they remained at an immature and undifferentiated stage. When the medium was supplemented with phorbol 12-O-tetradecanoyl-13-acetate (TPA) + cholera toxin (CT), the cell morphology changed and became L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA)-positive. This observation indicates that the NCCmelh4 cells are capable of further differentiation with suitable stimulation. NCCmelb4 cells derived from the mouse neural crest has characteristics of melanocyte precursors (melanoblasts), and is a cell line which can be utilized to study differentiation-inducing factors and growth factors without the effects of feeder cells.
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