Transient gene expression for rapid protein production: studies & optimizations under serum-free conditions

Recombinant proteins are important for biomedical research and for the treatment of human disease. Therefore it is necessary to develop reproducible bioprocesses to rapidly produce proteins of adequate quality and quantity. Expression in mammalian cells is preferred if the proteins are to be properly folded and post-translationally modified. For the rapid production of milligram to gram quantities of a protein in mammalian cells, large-scale transient gene expression is an attractive option. The two most important components of this technology are the cell cultivation system and the gene delivery method. For this reason the goal of this thesis was to develop novel cost-efficient cell cultivation systems and gene delivery methods for the large-scale transfection of mammalian cells in chemically defined media free of any animal-derived components including serum. Cultivation of mammalian cells in suspension is essential for large-scale transient gene expression. A superior system for the cultivation of mammalian cells based on the agitation of cells in "square-shaped" glass bottles (square bottles) was developed. It is an inexpensive but efficient means to grow cells to a high density without instrumentation. The growth and viability of cultures of both human embryo kidney (HEK) 293E and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) DG44 cells in agitated one-liter square bottles exceeded that in spinner flasks, reaching cell densities 1.5 times higher on average. Furthermore, an efficient and reproducible method to transfect cells in agitated square bottles was developed for both HEK 293E and CHO DG44 cells. A novel gene delivery method termed calfection that relies on the addition of DNA and CaCl2 directly to a suspension culture was developed. Calfection has a number of advantages over existing gene delivery methods such as calcium phosphate-DNA coprecipitation in that there are no time-dependent steps. The DNA/CaCl2 solution can be stored for long periods and is filterable. It is suitable for both large-scale transfections in bioreactors and for high-throughput transfections in microtiter plates. One drawback, however, is its dependence on the presence of serum in the culture medium. A second gene delivery method, serum-free transfection with polyethylenimine (polyfection), proved to be highly efficient for the transfection of both HEK 293E and CHO DG44 cells. A reproducible method for polyfection in microtiter plates, 50 ml centrifuge tubes, agitated square and round bottles, spinner flasks, and bioreactors was optimized for these two cell lines. Polyfection proved to be a simple and successful gene transfer method in both instrumented and non-instrumented cultivation systems. Importantly, it could be performed in serum-free chemically defined media. With HEK 293E cells, 80 mg/l of antibody was produced in agitated square bottles and with CHO DG44 cells, more than 2 g of antibody were produced in one week in a 150-liter bioreactor.

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 3297 (2005)
    Section de chimie et génie chimique
    Faculté des sciences de base
    Institut interfacultaire de Bioingénierie (SV/STI)
    Laboratoire de biotechnologie cellulaire (SV/STI/SB)
    Jury: Sabine Geisse, Kai Johnsson, Immanuel Luescher, Urs von Stockar

    Public defense: 2005-7-22


    Record created on 2005-07-12, modified on 2016-08-08

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