Serum-containing medium is widely used to support cell attachment, stable growth and serial passaging of various cancer cell lines. However, the presence of cholesterols and lipids in serum greatly hinders the analysis of the effects of cholesterol depletion on cells in culture. In this study, we developed a defined serum-free culture condition accessible to a variety of different types of adherent cancer cells. We tested different factors that are considered essential for cell culture and various extracellular matrix for plate coating, and found cells cultured in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) basal media supplemented with Albumin (BSA) and insulin-transferrin-selenium-ethanolamine (ITS-X) on fibronectinprecoated plate (called as "DA-X condition") showed comparable proliferation and survival to those in a serum-containing medium. Interestingly, we observed that DA-X condition could be adapted to a wide variety of adherent cancer cell lines, which enabled the analysis of how cholesterol depletion affected cancer cells in culture. Mechanistically, we found the beneficial effects of the DA-X condition in part can be attributed to the appropriate level of membrane cholesterol, and fibronectin-mediated signaling plays an important role in the suppression of cholesterol production.
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