Systems genomics evaluation of the SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line as a model for Parkinson’s disease

Background: The human neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y, is a commonly used cell line in studies related to neurotoxicity, oxidative stress, and neurodegenerative diseases. Although this cell line is often used as a cellular model for Parkinson’s disease, the relevance of this cellular model in the context of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative diseases has not yet been systematically evaluated.
Results: We have used a systems genomics approach to characterize the SH-SY5Y cell line using whole-genome sequencing to determine the genetic content of the cell line and used transcriptomics and proteomics data to determine molecular correlations. Further, we integrated genomic variants using a network analysis approach to evaluate the suitability of the SH-SY5Y cell line for perturbation experiments in the context of neurodegenerative diseases, including PD.
Conclusions: The systems genomics approach showed consistency across different biological levels (DNA, RNA and protein concentrations). Most of the genes belonging to the major Parkinson’s disease pathways and modules were intact in the SH-SY5Y genome. Specifically, each analysed gene related to PD has at least one intact copy in SH-SY5Y. The disease-specific network analysis approach ranked the genetic integrity of SH-SY5Y as higher for PD than for Alzheimer’s disease but lower than for Huntington’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis for loss of function perturbation experiments.

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