Tom Deerinck, NIGMS, NIH

Naming a Cell Line

Essential Requirements
Essential Requirements

Naming a Cell Line: Essential Requirements

Download the latest version of our Naming a Cell Line document (updated 2 March 2023).

This document was written to help scientists find unique names for newly established cell lines.

ICLAC has noticed an increasing number of cell lines with identical names but coming from different donors.  To help address the problem, this document sets out:

  • Essential requirements for cell line names
  • Comments on standardized nomenclatures
  • Recommended styles for cell line names
  • Recommended name styles for cell lines where one or more genes have been knocked out
  • Recommended name styles for cell lines selected for resistance to a toxic chemical compound
  • Recommended name styles for cell lines transfected / transduced with a construct
  • Characters to avoid using in cell line names

Numerical identifiers are also important to identify and track cell lines in publications.  For more information see:

Bandrowski AE, Martone ME (2016) RRIDs: A Simple Step toward Improving Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency of Experimental Methods. Neuron 90(3): 434-6. See Journal website.