HEK293 cells, or Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells, are a specific cell line derived from human embryonic kidney cells. They were first cultured in the early 1970s by scientist Alex van der Eb and his team at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The “293” in the name refers to the 293rd experiment conducted during the development of this cell line.
HEK293 cells are widely used in scientific research due to their ease of culture, rapid growth, and ability to be easily transfected with foreign DNA, which allows researchers to produce large quantities of recombinant proteins. They are also employed in the production of viral vectors for gene therapy and as a model system for studying various cellular processes, such as signal transduction and protein expression.
Despite being derived from kidney cells, the HEK293 cell line exhibits properties of neuronal cells, making them useful for research in the field of neuroscience as well. However, it’s important to note that HEK293 cells are not completely representative of any specific tissue or cell type, so findings in these cells should be validated in more physiologically relevant systems when possible.