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How Did That Get There?

Researchers from the University of Toronto have retracted a paper because the cell lines they used were contaminated, Retraction Watch reports.

The retracted paper, appearing in Molecular Biology of the Cell, had purported to show that calreticulin lacking lectin could still act as a chaperone for class I histocompatibility molecules, but the researchers noted that work from other groups didn't support their conclusions, prompting them to investigate.

In the retraction notice, the researchers say that that "investigation detected evidence of contaminating wild-type calreticulin in the original mutant cell lines, contamination that occurred by unknown means in the senior author's laboratory."

Contaminated cell lines are thought to contribute to the issue of scientific reproducibility as some one in six researchers working with human cells are estimated to be using the wrong cell lines. This has led the US National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers to urge others to authenticate their lines using STR profiling.

Retraction Watch notes, though, that contaminated cell lines are rarely the reason cited for a retraction, and it lauds the researchers for doing so.