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Visualisation of intracellular production bottlenecks in suspension-adapted CHO cells producing complex biopharmaceuticals using fluorescence microscopy

Mathias, Sven, Fischer, Simon, Handrick, René, Fieder, Jürgen, Schulz, Patrick, Bradl, Harald, Gorr, Ingo, Gamer, Martin, Otte, Kerstin
Journal of biotechnology 2018 v.271 pp. 47-55
Chinese hamsters, Golgi apparatus, animal ovaries, antibodies, automation, biopharmaceuticals, cell lines, endoplasmic reticulum, fluorescence microscopy, immunoglobulin G, recombinant proteins, secretion, translation (genetics)
With the advance of complex biological formats such as bispecific antibodies or fusion proteins, mammalian expression systems often show low performance. Described determining factors may be accumulation or haltering of heterologous proteins within the different cellular compartments disturbing transport or secretion. In case of the investigated bispecific antibody (bsAb)-producing Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line neither impaired transcription nor decreased translation processes were identified and thus satisfactorily explained its low production capacity. Hence, we established a streamlined confocal microscopy-based methodology for CHO production cells investigating the distribution of the recombinant protein within the respective organelles of the secretory pathway and visualised the structure of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to be affected pinpointing towards an intra-ER bottleneck putatively hampering or limiting efficient secretion. The ER displayed not only a heavily altered morphology in comparison to a high immunoglobulin G (IgG)-producing cell line with a possibly inflated or overloaded structure, but the recombinant protein was also completely absent in the Golgi apparatus. Notably, the results obtained using an automated microscopy approach suggest the possible application of this methodology in cell line development and engineering.