Heterologous expression of the lipid transfer protein CERT increases therapeutic protein productivity of mammalian cells
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Journal of Biotechnology 141 (1-2): 84--90 (2009)

Recent studies have demonstrated that the introduction of transgenes regulating protein transport or affecting post-translational modifications can further improve industrial processes for the production of therapeutic proteins in mammalian cells. Our study on improving therapeutic protein production in CHO cells by heterologous expression of the ceramide transfer protein (CERT) was initiated by the recent discovery that CERT is involved in protein kinase D (PKD)-dependent protein transport from the Golgi to the plasma membrane. We generated a set of CHO DG44 cell lines by stable integration of constructs expressing either CERT wild-type or CERT S132A, a mutant conferring increased lipid transfer activity, or a mock plasmid. CHO cells expressing heterologous CERT demonstrated significantly higher specific productivities of the therapeutic protein HSA when grown in inoculum suspension cultures. This effect translated into significantly increased overall HSA titers in a fed-batch format where cells are grown in chemically defined serum-free media. Furthermore, we could show that CERT also enhanced monoclonal antibody secretion in two IgG production cell lines with different basal productivities. The data demonstrate the potential of CERT engineering to improve mammalian cell culture production processes to yield high amounts of a therapeutic protein product of desired quality. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing a bottle neck in recombinant protein secretion at the Golgi complex in mammalian cells. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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