Human Embryonic Kidney cells (HEK293)

HEK 293 :  Human Embryonic Kidney cells 293 (HEK 293) is nowadays widely used in biotechnology for biopharmaceuticals production and viral vector propagation. 


Origin : HEK 293 cell type was originally generated in 1973 by transformation of normal human embryonic kidney cells in Alex van der Eb’s laboratory in Leiden, the Netherlands. It was transformed with DNA of adenovirus 5, a well-known transfection technique(Braam et al. 2008; Feature 2005). The transformed cells were obtained from a legally aborted foetus. The number 293 comes from the habit of van der Eb’s post doc Frank Graham to number his experiment. The transfection that led to the generation of HEK 293 was his 293rd experiment.


Main characteristics : the most frequently used derivate of 293 is the 293T line. It contains the SV40 large T-antigen thus providing an amplification method for vectors carrying a SV40 ori. This system considerably increases the expression levels obtained with transient transfection. Many other HEK 293 derived cell line exist, exhibiting many different properties. But the constant and most interesting features are the reliable growth and ease of transfection.


Applications : the HEK 293 cell line is used in the research field as much as in the bioproduction industry. The range of applications goes from academic research to biopharmaceuticals production and viral vector production for gene therapy. 


Our experience : AmplyCell is currently gaining insight regarding viral vector production optimisation. 


References :

Braam, Stefan R et al. 2008. “Improved Genetic Manipulation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells.” 5(5): 389–92.

Feature, Technology. 2005. “The inside Scoop ⎯ Evaluating Gene Delivery Methods.” 2(11).