Product category
Human cells
Product type
Reporter-labeled cell
Cell model
Homo sapiens, human
Breast; Mammary gland
3D cell culture
Assay development
Drug development
High-throughput screening
Product format
Storage conditions
Vapor phase of liquid nitrogen


Biosafety Icon BSL 2

ATCC determines the biosafety level of a material based on our risk assessment as guided by the current edition of Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is your responsibility to understand the hazards associated with the material per your organization’s policies and procedures as well as any other applicable regulations as enforced by your local or national agencies.

ATCC highly recommends that appropriate personal protective equipment is always used when handling vials. For cultures that require storage in liquid nitrogen, it is important to note that some vials may leak when submersed in liquid nitrogen and will slowly fill with liquid nitrogen. Upon thawing, the conversion of the liquid nitrogen back to its gas phase may result in the vial exploding or blowing off its cap with dangerous force creating flying debris. Unless necessary, ATCC recommends that these cultures be stored in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen rather than submersed in liquid nitrogen.

Detailed product information


Specific applications

Mesenchymal to epithelial transition, anti-EMT drug screening, metastatic breast cancer drug screening, vimentin intermediate filament dynamics. See Technical Data Sheet.

The MDA-MB-231 VIM RFP reporter cell line provides a convenient and sensitive platform for research on the mechanisms of metastasis in vitro and the development of new anti-EMT drugs for metastatic breast cancer.


Cells per vial
Approximately 2.0 x 106
1.0 mL
Growth properties
51 years
Pleural effusion

Breast cancer is the most aggressive form of all cancers, with high incidence and mortality rates. Although epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) have been implicated in the incidence of cancer metastasis and drug resistance, their impact in cancer progression and patient survival is not fully understood (NIETO et al. 2016). During EMT, epithelial cells lose their polarity, as well as their cell-cell adhesions, and acquire the motile and invasive characteristics of mesenchymal cells (HAY 1995). Proteins such as vimentin (VIM) intermediate filament (IF) are generally upregulated when the cell is in the mesenchymal relative to the epithelial status (GILLES et al. 1999; THIERY and SLEEMAN 2006; RICHARDSON et al. 2012; LAMOUILLE et al. 2014). 

The VIM RFP reporter cell line (ATCC HTB-26MET) was created using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and the parental MDA-MB-231 breast adenocarcinoma cell line (ATCC HTB-26). HTB-26MET harbors a C-terminal red fluorescent protein (RFP) tag on the vimentin gene. This enables the tracking of the EMT status of cells in vitro by monitoring RFP expression. The integrity of the VIM RFP knock-in has been verified at the genomic, mRNA, and protein level for sequence and expression. Functional evaluation of HTB-26MET shows sensitivity to metastatic breast cancer drugs axitinib (tyrosine kinase inhibitor) and U0126 (MEK1/2 inhibitor) via the inhibition of the inherent signaling pathways which impact EMT. 

Handling information

Unpacking and storage instructions
  1. Check all containers for leakage or breakage.
  2. Remove the frozen cells from the dry ice packaging and immediately place the cells at a temperature below ­-130°C, preferably in liquid nitrogen vapor, until ready for use.
Complete medium

The base medium for this cell line is Eagle's Minimum Essential Medium (EMEM; ATCC 30-2003). To make the complete medium, add the following components to the base medium at the indicated final concentrations:

  • 10% Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS; ATCC 30-2020)
  • 0.01 mg/mL human recombinant insulin (Thermo Fisher cat# 12585014) 
  • 10 µg/mL Blasticidin S HCl (Gibco cat# A11139-03)
95% Air, 5% CO2
Handling procedure

To ensure the highest level of viability, thaw the vial and initiate the culture as soon as possible upon receipt. If upon arrival, continued storage of the frozen culture is necessary, it should be stored in liquid nitrogen vapor phase and not at -70°C.  Storage at -70°C will result in loss of viability.  

  1. Initial seeding density is 1x 104 and 2x104 Thaw the vial by gentle agitation in a 37°C water bath. To reduce the possibility of contamination, keep the O-ring and cap out of the water.  Thawing should be rapid (approximately 2 minutes).
  2. Remove the vial from the water bath as soon as the contents are thawed, and decontaminate by dipping in or spraying with 70% ethanol. All of the operations from this point on should be carried out under strict aseptic conditions.
  3. Transfer the vial contents to a centrifuge tube containing  9.0 mL complete culture medium. and spin at approximately 250 x g for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Resuspend cell pellet with the recommended complete medium (see the specific batch information for the culture recommended dilution ratio). It is important to avoid excessive alkalinity of the medium during recovery of the cells.  It is suggested that, prior to the addition of the vial contents, the culture vessel containing the complete growth medium be placed into the incubator for at least 15 minutes to allow the medium to reach its normal pH (7.0 to 7.6). pH (7.0 to 7.6).
  5. Incubate the culture at 37°C in a suitable incubator.  A 5% CO2 in air atmosphere is recommended if using the medium described on this product sheet.


Subculturing procedure
Volumes used in this protocol are for 75 cm2 flask; proportionally reduce or increase amount of dissociation medium for culture vessels of other sizes. Corning® T-75 flasks (catalog #430641) are recommended for subculturing this product.
  1. Remove and discard culture medium.
  2. Briefly rinse the cell layer with 0.25% (w/v) Trypsin- 0.53 mM EDTA solution to remove all traces of serum that contains trypsin inhibitor.
  3. Add 2.0 to 3.0 mL of Trypsin-EDTA solution to flask and observe cells under an inverted microscope until cell layer is dispersed (usually within 5 to 15 minutes).
    Note: To avoid clumping do not agitate the cells by hitting or shaking the flask while waiting for the cells to detach. Cells that are difficult to detach may be placed at 37°C to facilitate dispersal.
  4. Add 6.0 to 8.0 mL of complete growth medium and aspirate cells by gently pipetting.
  5. Add appropriate aliquots of the cell suspension to new culture vessels.
  6. Incubate cultures at 37°C.
Subcultivation Ratio: A subcultivation ratio of 1:2 to 1:4 is recommended
Medium Renewal: 2 to 3 times per week
Reagents for cryopreservation
Complete growth medium plus with 5% (v/v) DMSO (ATCC 4-X)

Quality control specifications

Bacterial and fungal testing
Not detected
Mycoplasma contamination
Not detected
Virus testing
Hepatitis B virus (HBV): Not detected
Cytomegalovirus (CMV): Not detected
Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV): Not detected
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Not detected
Human papillomavirus (HPV): Not detected
Functional tests
Genotype Testing for KI mutation: PCR- Band at 1894 kb corresponding to Vimentin RFP junction; Sanger Sequencing – confirms junction sequence.
Sensitivity to EMT induction and anti-EMT drugs verified during product development and validation (See Technical Data Sheet).
STR profiling
Amelogenin: X
CSF1PO: 12,13
D13S317: 13
D16S539: 12
D5S818: 12
D7S820: 8,9
THO1: 7,9.3
TPOX: 8,9
vWA: 15, 18
≥ 70%


Year of origin

Legal disclaimers

Intended use
This product is intended for laboratory research use only. It is not intended for any animal or human therapeutic use, any human or animal consumption, or any diagnostic use.

The product is provided 'AS IS' and the viability of ATCC® products is warranted for 30 days from the date of shipment, provided that the customer has stored and handled the product according to the information included on the product information sheet, website, and Certificate of Analysis. For living cultures, ATCC lists the media formulation and reagents that have been found to be effective for the product. While other unspecified media and reagents may also produce satisfactory results, a change in the ATCC and/or depositor-recommended protocols may affect the recovery, growth, and/or function of the product. If an alternative medium formulation or reagent is used, the ATCC warranty for viability is no longer valid.  Except as expressly set forth herein, no other warranties of any kind are provided, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, manufacture according to cGMP standards, typicality, safety, accuracy, and/or noninfringement.


This product is intended for laboratory research use only. It is not intended for any animal or human therapeutic use, any human or animal consumption, or any diagnostic use. Any proposed commercial use is prohibited without a license from ATCC.

While ATCC uses reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information on this product sheet, ATCC makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy. Citations from scientific literature and patents are provided for informational purposes only. ATCC does not warrant that such information has been confirmed to be accurate or complete and the customer bears the sole responsibility of confirming the accuracy and completeness of any such information.

This product is sent on the condition that the customer is responsible for and assumes all risk and responsibility in connection with the receipt, handling, storage, disposal, and use of the ATCC product including without limitation taking all appropriate safety and handling precautions to minimize health or environmental risk. As a condition of receiving the material, the customer agrees that any activity undertaken with the ATCC product and any progeny or modifications will be conducted in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines. This product is provided 'AS IS' with no representations or warranties whatsoever except as expressly set forth herein and in no event shall ATCC, its parents, subsidiaries, directors, officers, agents, employees, assigns, successors, and affiliates be liable for indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages of any kind in connection with or arising out of the customer's use of the product. While reasonable effort is made to ensure authenticity and reliability of materials on deposit, ATCC is not liable for damages arising from the misidentification or misrepresentation of such materials.

Please see the material transfer agreement (MTA) for further details regarding the use of this product. The MTA is available at


Curated Citations

Thiery JP, Sleeman JP. Complex networks orchestrate epithelial-mesenchymal transitions. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 7(2): 131-142, 2006. PubMed: 16493418

Richardson F, et al. The evaluation of E-Cadherin and vimentin as biomarkers of clinical outcomes among patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with erlotinib as second- or third-line therapy. Anticancer Res 32(2): 537-552, 2012. PubMed: 22287743

Gilles C, et al. Vimentin contributes to human mammary epithelial cell migration. J Cell Sci 112 (Pt 24): 4615-4625, 1999. PubMed: 10574710

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