NIH 3T3 mouse embryonic fibroblast cells come from a cell line isolated and initiated in 1962 at the New York University School of Medicine Department of Pathology. 3T3 refers to the cell transfer and inoculation protocol for the line, and means “3-day transfer, inoculum 3 x 10^5 cells.” Using this protocol, the immortal cell line begins to thrive and stabilize in cell culture after about 20-30 generations of in vitro growth.
George Todaro and Howard Green, the scientists who first cultured this cell line, obtained the cells from desegregated NIH Swiss mouse embryo fibroblasts. The cell line has since become a standard fibroblast cell line.
Swiss 3T3 cells are inhibited by temazepam and other benzodiazepines. The original cells are extremely contact inhibited, although the cell line is no longer inhibited. 3T3 cells are sensitive to sarcoma virus focus formation, as well as leukemia virus.
3T3 cells are also receptive to transformation with polyomavirus and SV40.
Lysophosphatidylcholine (lyso-PC) induces AP-1 activity and c-jun N-terminal kinase activity (JNK1) by a protein kinase C-independent pathway
3T3 mouse cells are hypertriploid. The modal chromosome number is 68, which occurs in 30% of cells. Higher ploidies occur at a much lower rate of 2.4%.