hTERT immortalized human corneal epithelial cell line

The cells are characterized by unlimited growth while maintaining expression of cell type specific markers and functions such as:

  • Expression of typical epithelial morphology, formation of tight junctions as demonstrated by staining for ZO-1 expression
  • Formation of a well stratified epithelium when grown in an air-liquid interface with development of basal, wing and squamous cell layers
  • Positioned expression of ZO-1 and KRT3 after long-term 3D differentiation

Therefore, these cells are the only solution for gene editing using e.g. the CRISPR/Cas9 system when primary like characteristics are of importance. Furthermore, in collaboration with The Human Protein Atlas next generation sequencing was performed and data are available for download to support your decision process in selecting cells that are fit for purpose - get these data after log in from our database

For this product you can obtain a license for research use only - read more.

Contact us for more information


NGS data for downloaddownload xlsx-file

hTCEpi - morphology and expression of functional markers (download pdf-file)

hTCEpi - 3D differentiation (download pdf-file)

Publications using hTCEpi cell line:

Alekseev O, Donovan K, Azizkhan-Clifford J. Inhibition of ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase suppresses herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) keratitis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Feb 3;55(2):706-15. [PMID 24370835]

Alekseev O, Limonnik V, Donovan K, Azizkhan-Clifford J. Activation of checkpoint kinase 2 is critical for herpes simplex virus type 1 replication in corneal epithelium. Ophthalmic Res. 2015;53(2):55-64. [PMID 25531207]

Atilano SR, Chwa M, Kim DW, Jordan N, Udar N, Coskun P, Jester JV, Wallace DC, Kenney MC. Hydrogen peroxide causes mitochondrial DNA damage in corneal epithelial cells. Cornea. 2009 May;28(4):426-33. [PMID 19411962]

Dreier B, Raghunathan VK, Russell P, Murphy CJ. Focal adhesion kinase knockdown modulates the response of human corneal epithelial cells to topographic cues. Acta Biomater. 2012 Dec;8(12):4285-94. [PMID 22813850]

Koppaka V, Chen Y, Mehta G, Orlicky DJ, Thompson DC, Jester JV, Vasiliou V. ALDH3A1 Plays a Functional Role in Maintenance of Corneal Epithelial Homeostasis. PLoS One. 2016 Jan 11;11(1):e0146433. [PMID 26751691]

McClintock JL, Ceresa BP. Transforming growth factor-{alpha} enhances corneal epithelial cell migration by promoting EGFR recycling. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Jul;51(7):3455-61. [PMID 20181835]

McMahon FW, Gallagher C, O'Reilly N, Clynes M, O'Sullivan F, Kavanagh K. Exposure of a corneal epithelial cell line (hTCEpi) to Demodex-associated Bacillus proteins results in an inflammatory response. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Oct 2;55(10):7019-28. [PMID 25277231]

Neves LF, Duan J, Voelker A, Khanal A, McNally L, Steinbach-Rankins J, Ceresa BP. Preparation and optimisation of anionic liposomes for delivery of small peptides and cDNA to human corneal epithelial cells. J Microencapsul. 2016 Jun;33(4):391-9. [PMID 27530524]

O'Reilly N, Gallagher C, Reddy Katikireddy K, Clynes M, O'Sullivan F, Kavanagh K. Demodex-associated Bacillus proteins induce an aberrant wound healing response in a corneal epithelial cell line: possible implications for corneal ulcer formation in ocular rosacea. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 May 31;53(6):3250-9. [PMID 22531699]

Parks EE, Ceresa BP. Cell surface epidermal growth factor receptors increase Src and c-Cbl activity and receptor ubiquitylation. J Biol Chem. 2014 Sep 12;289(37):25537-45. [PMID 25074934]

Reins RY, Mesmar F, Williams C, McDermott AM. Vitamin D Induces Global Gene Transcription in Human Corneal Epithelial Cells: Implications for Corneal Inflammation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 May 1;57(6):2689-98. [PMID 27196318]

Robertson DM, Ho SI, Cavanagh HD. C-terminal cleavage of DeltaNp63alpha is associated with TSA-induced apoptosis in immortalized corneal epithelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Aug;51(8):3977-85. [PMID 20375332]

Robertson DM, Ho SI, Cavanagh HD. Characterization of DeltaNp63 isoforms in normal cornea and telomerase-immortalized human corneal epithelial cells. Exp Eye Res. 2008 Apr;86(4):576-85. [PMID 18314104]

Robertson DM, Ho SI, Hansen BS, Petroll WM, Cavanagh HD. Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein-3 expression in the human corneal epithelium. Exp Eye Res. 2007 Oct;85(4):492-501. [PMID 17709104]

Robertson DM, Li L, Fisher S, Pearce VP, Shay JW, Wright WE, Cavanagh HD, Jester JV. Characterization of growth and differentiation in a telomerase-immortalized human corneal epithelial cell line. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Feb;46(2):470-8. [PMID 15671271]

Robertson DM, Zhu M, Wu YC, Cavanagh HD. Hypoxia-induced downregulation of ΔNp63α in the corneal epithelium. Eye Contact Lens. 2012 Jul;38(4):214-21. [PMID 22367219]

Rush JS, Bingaman DP, Chaney PG, Wax MB, Ceresa BP. Administration of Menadione, Vitamin K3, Ameliorates Off-Target Effects on Corneal Epithelial Wound Healing Due to Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Inhibition. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Nov 1;57(14):5864-5871. [PMID 27802516]

Rush JS, Boeving MA, Berry WL, Ceresa BP. Antagonizing c-Cbl enhances EGFR-dependent corneal epithelial homeostasis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Jul 1;55(8):4691-9. [PMID 24985478]

Talarico EF Jr. Plasma membrane calcium-ATPase isoform four distribution changes during corneal epithelial wound healing. Mol Vis. 2010 Nov 2;16:2259-72. [PMID 21139678]

Tocce EJ, Broderick AH, Murphy KC, Liliensiek SJ, Murphy CJ, Lynn DM, Nealey PF. Functionalization of reactive polymer multilayers with RGD and an antifouling motif: RGD density provides control over human corneal epithelial cell-substrate interactions. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2012 Jan;100(1):84-93. [PMID 21972074]

Wilson MJ, Liliensiek SJ, Murphy CJ, Murphy WL, Nealey PF. Hydrogels with well-defined peptide-hydrogel spacing and concentration: impact on epithelial cell behavior(). Soft Matter. 2012;8(2):390-398. [PMID 23264803]

Wu YC, Buckner BR, Zhu M, Cavanagh HD, Robertson DM. Elevated IGFBP3 levels in diabetic tears: a negative regulator of IGF-1 signaling in the corneal epithelium. Ocul Surf. 2012 Apr;10(2):100-7. [PMID 22482470]

Wu YC, Zhu M, Robertson DM. Novel nuclear localization and potential function of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor/insulin receptor hybrid in corneal epithelial cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42483. [PMID 22879999]

Yamamoto N, Yamamoto N, Petroll MW, Cavanagh HD, Jester JV. Internalization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is mediated by lipid rafts in contact lens-wearing rabbit and cultured human corneal epithelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Apr;46(4):1348-55. [PMID 15790901]

Yamamoto N, Yamamoto N, Petroll MW, Jester JV, Cavanagh HD. Regulation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa internalization after contact lens wear in vivo and in serum-free culture by ocular surface cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006 Aug;47(8):3430-40. [PMID 16877413]

Yáñez-Soto B, Leonard BC, Raghunathan VK, Abbott NL, Murphy CJ. Effect of Stratification on Surface Properties of Corneal Epithelial Cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Dec;56(13):8340-8. [PMID 26747762]


Please note, Evercyte can only guarantee successful growth of the cells if you stick to the protocols and media provided.

Protocol for in vitro propagation of hTCEpi - (download pdf-file)

Protocol for cryoperservation of hTCEpi - (download pdf-file)


hTCEpi cell line

  • is free from human pathogenic viruses HAV, HBV, HCV, HIV, Parvo B19
  • is free from mycoplasma contaminations
  • shows telomerase activity
  • is characterized for its STR profile

This material is distributed for research purposes only.

Basic documentation:
Product data sheet (PDS) - download pdf-file
Certificates of Analysis are available upon request. Please, contact us directly by indicating us your LOT-numbers, mailto: office@evercyte.com

Legal restriction:
To finalize your order it is required to sign a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) of Evercyte.
Download a 
MTA signatory version to be signed by an authorized representative of your institution and submit it to our sales team (office@evercyte.com).