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Trypsinization is the process of cell dissociation using trypsin, a proteolytic enzyme which breaks down proteins, to dissociate adherent cells from the vessel in which they are being cultured. When added to a cell culture, trypsin breaks down the proteins that enable the cells to adhere to the vessel. Trypsinization is often used to pass cells to a new vessel. When the trypsinization process is complete the cells will be in suspension and appear rounded.

For experimental purposes, cells are often cultivated in containers that take the form of plastic flasks or plates. In such flasks, cells are provided with growth medium comprising the essential nutrients required for proliferation, and the cells adhere to the container and each other as they grow.

This process of cell culture or tissue culture requires a method to dissociate the cells from the container and each other. Trypsin, an enzyme commonly found in the digestive tract, can be used to "digest" the proteins that facilitate adhesion to the container and between cells.

Once cells have detached from their container it is necessary to deactivate the trypsin, unless the trypsin is synthetic, as cell surface proteins will also be cleaved over time and this will affect cell functioning. [1] Trypsin is inhibited by serum that provides the divalent cations like calcium and magnesium which plays a role in both intra and intercellular signalling process i.e. forming CAMs, so serum is usually added to the container once cells have detached - this can be confirmed by observation under a microscope.

Trypsinization is often done to permit passage of the cells to a new container, observation for experimentation, or reduction of the degree of confluency in the flask by removal of a percentage of the cells.

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Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3, also known as IGFBP-3, is a protein that in humans is encoded by the IGFBP3 gene. IGFBP-3 is one of six IGF binding proteins that have highly conserved structures and bind the insulin-like growth factors IGF-1 and IGF-2 with high affinity. IGFBP-7, sometimes included in this family, shares neither the conserved structural features nor the high IGF affinity. Instead, IGFBP-7 binds IGF1R, which blocks IGF-1 and IGF-2 binding, resulting in apoptosis.


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  1. Huang, H. L.; Hsing, H. W.; Lai, T. C.; Chen, Y. W.; Lee, T. R.; Chan, H. T.; Lyu, P. C.; Wu, C. L.; Lu, Y. C.; Lin, S. T.; Lin, C. W.; Lai, C. H.; Chang, H. T.; Chou, H. C.; Chan, H. L. (2010). "Trypsin-induced proteome alteration during cell subculture in mammalian cells". Journal of Biomedical Science. 17 (1): 36. doi:10.1186/1423-0127-17-36. PMC   2873939 . PMID   20459778.