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Engineered transient and stable overexpression of translation factors eIF3i and eIF3c in CHOK1 and HEK293 cells gives enhanced cell growth associated with increased c-Myc expression and increased recombinant protein synthesis

Roobol, Anne, Roobol, Joanne, Smith, Matthew E., Carden, Martin J., Hershey, John W.B., Willis, Anne E., Smales, C. Mark
Metabolic engineering 2020 v.59 pp. 98-105
biomass production, biopharmaceuticals, cell growth, cell proliferation, engineering, human cell lines, mammals, protein synthesis, recombinant proteins
There is a desire to engineer mammalian host cell lines to improve cell growth/biomass accumulation and recombinant biopharmaceutical protein production in industrially relevant cell lines such as the CHOK1 and HEK293 cell lines. The over-expression of individual subunits of the eukaryotic translation factor eIF3 in mammalian cells has previously been shown to result in oncogenic properties being imparted on cells, including increased cell proliferation and growth and enhanced global protein synthesis rates. Here we report on the engineering of CHOK1 and HEK cells to over-express the eIF3i and eIF3c subunits of the eIF3 complex and the resultant impact on cell growth and a reporter of exogenous recombinant protein production. Transient over-expression of eIF3i in HEK293 and CHOK1 cells resulted in a modest increase in total eIF3i amounts (maximum 40% increase above control) and an approximate 10% increase in global protein synthesis rates in CHOK1 cells. Stable over-expression of eIF3i in CHOK1 cells was not achievable, most likely due to the already high levels of eIF3i in CHO cells compared to HEK293 cells, but was achieved in HEK293 cells. HEK293 cells engineered to over-express eIF3i had faster growth that was associated with increased c-Myc expression, achieved higher cell biomass and gave enhanced yields of a reporter of recombinant protein production. Whilst CHOK1 cells could not be engineered to over-express eIF3i directly, they could be engineered to over-express eIF3c, which resulted in a subsequent increase in eIF3i amounts and c-Myc expression. The CHOK1 eIF3c engineered cells grew to higher cell numbers and had enhanced cap- and IRES-dependent recombinant protein synthesis. Collectively these data show that engineering of subunits of the eIF3 complex can enhance cell growth and recombinant protein synthesis in mammalian cells in a cell specific manner that has implications for the engineering or selection of fast growing or high producing cells for production of recombinant proteins.