Conservation of the genetic resources of endangered animals is crucial for future generations. The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is a critically endangered species, because of human hunting, hybridisation with other sea turtle species, and infectious diseases. In the present study, we established primary fibroblast cell lines from the loggerhead sea turtle, and showed its species specific chromosome number is 2n = 56, which is identical to that of the hawksbill and olive ridley sea turtles. We first showed that intensive hybridization among multiple sea turtle species caused due to the identical chromosome number, which allows existence of stable hybridization among the multiple sea turtle species. Expressions of human-derived mutant Cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and Cyclin D dramatically extended the cell culture period, when it was compared with the cell culture period of wild type cells. The recombinant fibroblast cell lines maintained the normal chromosome condition and morphology, indicating that, at the G1/S phase, the machinery to control the cellular proliferation is evolutionally conserved among various vertebrates. To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate the functional conservation to overcome the negative feedback system to limit the turn over of the cell cycle between mammalian and reptiles. Our cell culture method will enable the sharing of cells from critically endangered animals as research materials.
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