The pathophysiological response following spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized by a complex cellular cascade that limits regeneration. Biomaterial and stem cell combination therapies have shown synergistic effects, compared to their interventions independent of each other, and represent a promising approach towards regaining function after injury. In this study, we combine our polyethylene glycol (PEG) cell delivery platform with lentiviral-mediated overexpression of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 to improve embryonic day 14 (E14) spinal progenitor transplant survival. PEG tubes loaded with lentivirus encoding for IL-10 were implanted immediately following injury into a mouse SCI hemisection model. Two weeks after tube implantation, mouse E14 spinal progenitors were injected directly into the integrated tubes, which served as a soft substrate for cell transplantation. Together, the tubes with the IL-10 encoding lentivirus improved E14 spinal progenitor survival, assessed at two weeks post-transplantation (four weeks post-injury). Mice receiving IL-10 lentivirus-laden tubes had on average 8.1% of E14 spinal progenitors survive compared to 0.7% in mice receiving transplants without tubes, an 11.5-fold difference. Surviving E14 spinal progenitors gave rise to neurons when injected into tubes. Additionally, axon elongation and remyelination was observed, in addition to a faster rate of functional recovery in mice receiving anti-inflammatory tubes with E14 spinal progenitor delivery. This system affords increased control over the transplantation microenvironment, offering the potential to improve stem cell-mediated tissue regeneration.
Increasing demands for protein-based therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins, bispecific molecules and antibody fragments require researchers to constantly find innovative solutions. To increase yields and decrease costs of next generation bioprocesses, highly concentrated cell culture media formulations are developed but often limited by the low solubility of amino acids such as tyrosine, cystine, leucine and isoleucine, in particular at physiological pH. This work sought to investigate highly soluble and bioavailable derivatives of leucine and isoleucine that are applicable for fed-batch processes. N-lactoyl-leucine and N-lactoyl-isoleucine sodium salts were tested in cell culture media and proved to be beneficial to increase the overall solubility of cell culture media formulations. These modified amino acids proved to be bioavailable for various Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and were suitable for replacement of canonical amino acids in cell culture feeds. The quality of the final recombinant protein was studied in bioprocesses using the derivatives, and the mechanism of cleavage was investigated in CHO cells. Altogether, both N-lactoyl amino acids represent an advantageous alternative to canonical amino acids to develop highly concentrated cell culture media formulations to support next generation bioprocesses.
Cyclohexanone monooxygenase (CHMO), a member of the Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenase family, is a versatile biocatalyst that efficiently catalyzes the conversion of cyclic ketones to lactones. In this study, an Acidovorax-derived CHMO gene was expressed in Pseudomonas taiwanensis VLB120. Upon purification, the enzyme was characterized in vitro and shown to feature a broad substrate spectrum and up to 100% conversion in 6 h. Further, we determined and compared the cyclohexanone conversion kinetics for different CHMO-biocatalyst formats, i.e., isolated enzyme, suspended whole cells, and biofilms, the latter two based on recombinant CHMO-containing P. taiwanensis VLB120. Biofilms showed less favorable values for KS (9.3-fold higher) and kcat (4.8-fold lower) compared to corresponding KM and kcat values of isolated CHMO, but a favorable KI for cyclohexanone (5.3-fold higher). The unfavorable KS and kcat values are related to mass transfer- and possibly heterogeneity issues and deserve further investigation and engineering, in order to exploit the high potential of biofilms regarding process stability. Suspended cells showed an only 1.8-fold higher KS, but 1.3- and 4.2-fold higher kcat and KI values than isolated CHMO. This together with the efficient NADPH regeneration via glucose metabolism makes this format highly promising from a kinetics perspective.
Catalytic efficiency and thermostability are the two most important characteristics of enzymes. However, it is always tough to improve both catalytic efficiency and thermostability of enzymes simultaneously. In the present study, a computational strategy with double-screening steps was proposed to simultaneously improve both catalysis efficiency and thermostability of enzymes; and a fungal α-L-rhamnosidase was used to validate the strategy. As the result, by molecular docking and sequence alignment analysis within the binding pocket, seven mutant candidates were predicted with better catalytic efficiency. By energy variety analysis, three among the seven mutant candidates were predict with better thermostability. The expression and characterization results showed the mutant D525N had significant improvements in both enzyme activity and thermostability. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the mutations located within the 5 Å range of the catalytic domain, which could improve RMSD, electrostatic, Van der Waal interaction and polar salvation values, and formed water bridge between the substrate and the enzyme. The study indicated that the computational strategy based on the binding energy, conservation degree and mutation energy analyses was effective to develop enzymes with better catalysis and thermostability, providing practical approach for developing industrial enzymes.
The Vero cell line is the most used continuous cell line in viral vaccine manufacturing. This adherent cell culture platform requires the use of surfaces to support cell growth, typically roller bottles or microcarriers. We have recently compared the production of rVSV-ZEBOV on Vero cells between microcarrier and fixed-bed bioreactors. However, suspension cultures are considered superior with regards to process scalability. Therefore, we further explore the Vero suspension system for rVSV-vectored vaccine production. Previously, this suspension cell line was only able to be cultivated in a proprietary medium. Here, we expand the adaptation and bioreactor cultivation to a serum-free commercial medium. Following small scale optimization and screening studies, we demonstrate bioreactor productions of highly relevant vaccines and vaccine candidates against Ebola virus disease, HIV and COVID-19 in the Vero suspension system. rVSV-ZEBOV, rVSV-HIV and rVSVInd-msp-SF-Gtc can replicate to high titers in the bioreactor, reaching 3.87 × 107 TCID50/mL, 2.12 × 107 TCID50/mL and 3.59 × 109 TCID50/mL, respectively. Further, we compare cell specific productivities, and the quality of the produced viruses by determining the ratio of total viral particles to infectious viral particles
Synthetic microbial communities have the potential to enable new platforms for bioproduction of biofuels and biopharmaceuticals. However, using engineered communities is often assumed to be difficult because of anticipated challenges in establishing and controlling community composition. Cross-feeding between microbial auxotrophs has the potential to facilitate co-culture growth and stability through a mutualistic ecological interaction. We assessed cross-feeding between 13 Escherichia coli amino acid auxotrophs paired with a leucine auxotroph of Bacillus megaterium. We developed a minimal media capable of supporting the growth of both bacteria and used the media to study co-culture growth of the 13 interspecies pairs of auxotrophs in batch and continuous culture, and on semi-solid media. In batch culture, eight of thirteen pairs of auxotrophs were observed to grow in co-culture. We developed a new metric to quantify the impact of cross-feeding on co-culture growth. Six pairs also showed long-term stability in continuous culture, where co-culture growth at different dilution rates highlighted differences in cross-feeding amongst the pairs. Finally, we found that cross-feeding-dependent growth on semi-solid media is highly stringent and enables identification of the most efficient pairs. These results demonstrate that cross-feeding is a viable approach for controlling community composition within diverse synthetic communities.
Cell viability evaluation is significantly meaningful for cellular assays. Some cells with weak viability are easily killed in the detection of anti-cancer drugs, while others with strong viability survive and proliferate, ultimately leading to the treatment failure or the inaccuracy of biological assays. Accurately evaluating cell viability heterogeneity still remains difficult. This paper proposed a multi-physical property information fusion method for evaluating cell viability heterogeneity based on multiple linear regression (MLR) on a single-channel integrated microfluidic chip. In this method, adhesion strengths τN, that are defined as the magnitude of shear stress needed to detach (100-N) % of cell population, were extracted as the independent variables of MLR model by calculating the linear fitting of the impedance-response curves for shear stress (cell detachment assay). Besides, by calculating the non-linear fitting of the drug dose-response curves for cancer cells (IC50 assay), the half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) was extracted as the dependent variables of MLR model. The results show that the mean relative error of our fusion method reduces by 17.87% and 59.66% compared with the single-parameter method and the cell counting method. Moreover, through the theoretical analysis of the drug resistance heterogeneity model, it proved that there is a qualitative relationship between the cell adhesion strength and cell viability heterogeneity, which provides a theoretical basis for our fusion method.
Disulfide bond reduction has been a challenging issue in antibody manufacturing, as it leads to reduced product purity, failed product specifications and more importantly, impacting drug safety and efficacy. Scientists across industry have been examining the root causes and developing mitigation strategies to address the challenge. In recent years, with the development of high-titer mammalian cell culture processes to meet the rapidly growing demand for antibody biopharmaceuticals, disulfide bond reduction has been observed more frequently. Thus, it is necessary to continue evolving the disulfide reduction mitigation strategy and development of novel approaches to achieve high product quality. Additionally, in recent years as more complex molecules emerge such as bispecific and trispecific antibodies, the molecular heterogeneity due to incomplete formation of the interchain disulfide bonds becomes a more imperative issue. Given the disulfide reduction challenges that our industry are facing, in this review, we provide a comprehensive contemporary scientific insight into the root cause analysis of disulfide reduction during process development of antibody therapeutics, mitigation strategies and recovery based on our expertise in commercial and clinical manufacturing of biologics. First, this paper intended to highlight different aspects of the root cause for disulfide reduction. Secondly, to provide a broader understanding of the disulfide bond reduction in downstream process, this paper discussed disulfide bond reduction impact to product stability and process performance, analytical methods for detection and characterization, process control strategies and their manufacturing implementation. In addition, brief perspectives on development of future mitigation strategies will also be reviewed, including platform alignment, mitigation strategy application for bi- and tri-specific antibodies and using machine learning to identify molecule susceptibility of disulfide bond reduction. The data in this review are originated from both the published papers and our internal development work.
Frontal chromatography has seen increased interest for protein purification, in particular as a polishing step in downstream processes for therapeutic proteins production, as for example the purification of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from high molecular weight impurities, e.g., aggregates, using cation exchange resins. In this work we introduce a new two-column continuous process implementing frontal chromatography. The design procedure and its performance, compared to classical batch technology, are discussed. This represents an additional option in the realisation of optimised continuous downstream processing of therapeutic proteins.
Exposure of Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO) to highly concentrated feed solution during fed-batch cultivation is known to result in an unphysiological osmolality increase (>300 mOsm/kg), affecting cell physiology and morphology. Extending previous observation on osmotic adaptation, the present study investigates for the first time potential effects of hyperosmolality on CHO cells on both population and single-cell level. We intentionally exposed CHO cells to hyperosmolality of up to 545 mOsm/kg during fed-batch cultivation. Contrarily to an expected osmosis effect promoting cell shrinkage, hyperosmolality-exposed CHO cells showed a nearly triplicated volume accompanied by ablation of proliferation. On the molecular level, we observed a strong hyperosmolality-dependent increase in mitochondrial activity in CHO cells compared to control. The companion article “Hyperosmolality in CHO Culture: Effects on Proteome” provides a proteome-based insight into the effects of hyperosmolality on mitochondria. In contrast to mitochondrial activity, hyperosmolality-dependent proliferation arrest of CHO cells was not accompanied by DNA accumulation or caspase-3/7-mediated apoptosis. Notably, we demonstrate for the first time a formation of up to eight multiple, small nuclei in single hyperosmolality-stressed CHO cells. The here presented observations reveal unknown hyperosmolality-dependent morphological changes and support existing data on the osmotic response in mammalian cells.
The United States produces more than 10 million tons of waste oils and fats each year. This paper aims to establish a new biomanufacturing platform that convert waste oils or fats into a series of value-added products. Our research employs the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica as a case study for citrate production from waste oils. First, we conducted the CFD simulation of the bioreactor system and identified that the extracellular mixing and mass transfer is the first limiting factor of an oil fermentation process due to the insolubility of oil in water. Based on the CFD simulation results, bioreactor design and operating conditions were optimized and successfully enhanced oil uptake and bioconversion in fed-batch fermentation experiments. After that, we investigated the impacts of cell morphology on oil uptake, intracellular lipid accumulation, and citrate formation by overexpressing and deleting the MHY1 gene in the wild type Y. lipolytica. Fairly good correlations were achieved between cell morphology and productivities of biomass, lipid, and citrate. Finally, fermentation kinetics with both glucose and oil substrates were compared and the oil fermentation process was carefully evaluated. Our research results suggest that waste oils or fats can be economical feedstocks for biomanufacturing of many high-value products.
SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA coronavirus that causes severe acute pneumonia, also known as COVID 19 disease. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020 and a pandemic 2 months later. Serological assays are valuable tools to study virus spread among the population and, importantly, to identify individuals that were already infected and would be potentially immune to a virus re-infection. SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein and its Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) are the antigens with higher potential to develop SARS-CoV-2 serological assays. Moreover, structural studies of these antigens are key to understand the molecular basis for Spike interaction with angiotensin converting enzyme 2 receptor, hopefully enabling the discovery and development of COVID-19 therapeutics. Thus, it is urgent that significant amounts of this protein became available at the highest quality. In this work we evaluated the impact of different and scalable bioprocessing approaches on Spike and RBD production yields and, more importantly, in these antigens’ quality attributes. Using negative and positive sera collected from human donors, we show an excellent performance of the produced antigens, assessed in serologic ELISA tests, as denoted by the high specificity and sensitivity of the test. We have shown that, despite of the human cell host and the cell culture strategy used, for production scales ranging from 1 L to up to 30 L, final yields of approx. 2 mg and 90 mg per liter of purified bulk for Spike and RBD, respectively, could be obtained. To the best of our knowledge these are the highest yields for RBD production reported to date. An in-depth characterization of SARS CoV-2 Spike and RBD proteins was also performed, namely the antigens oligomeric state, glycosylation profiles and thermal stability during storage. The correlation of these quality attributes with ELISA performance show equivalent reactivity to SARS CoV 2 positive serum, for all Spike and RBD produced, and for all the storage conditions tested. Overall, we provide herein straightforward protocols to produce high-quality SARS CoV-2 Spike and RBD antigens, that can be easily adapted to both academic and industrial settings; and integrate, for the first time, studies on the impact of bioprocess with an in-deep characterization of these proteins, correlating antigens glycosylation and biophysical attributes to performance of COVID-19 serologic tests. We strongly believe that our work will contribute to advance the current and recent knowledge on SARS-CoV-2 proteins and support the scientific society that is persistently searching for solutions for COVID-19 pandemics.
Host cell proteins (HCPs) are process-related impurities that may co-purify with biopharmaceutical drug products. Within this class of impurities there are some that are more problematic. These problematic HCPs can be considered high-risk and can include those that are immunogenic, biologically active, or enzymatically active with the potential to degrade either product molecules or excipients used in formulation, and often are difficult-to-purify. Why should the biopharmaceutical industry worry about these high-risk host cell proteins? What approach could be taken to understand the origin of this co-purification and to deal with these high-risk HCPs? To answer these questions, the BioPhorum Development Group (BPDG) HCP Workstream initiated a collaboration among its 26-company team with the goal of industry alignment around high-risk HCPs. A sub team was formed, in which the members performed literature searches and discussed the information available around this topic. A survey to the BPDG HCP Workstream team members led to team discussions and insights into a list of frequently seen problematic HCPs. These HCPs were further classified based on their potential impact into different risk categories that could be beneficial to the biopharmaceutical industry for targeted monitoring of those HCP impurities in CHO-produced biologics to minimize risk to product quality, safety, and efficacy.
Retroviral gene delivery is widely used in T cell therapies for hematological cancers. However, viral vectors are expensive to manufacture, they integrate genes in semi-random patterns, and their transduction efficiency is highly variable. In this study, several non-viral gene delivery vehicles, promoters, and additional variables were compared to optimize non-viral transgene delivery and expression in both Jurkat and primary T cells. Overall, transfecting Jurkat cells in X-VIVOTM 15 media with Lipofectamine LTX provided a high transfection efficiency (63.0±10.9% EGFP+). However, the same method yielded a much lower transfection efficiency in primary T cells (8.1±0.8% EGFP+). Subsequent confocal microscopy revealed that a majority of the lipoplexes did not enter the primary T cells, which might be due to relatively low expression levels of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) detected via mRNA-sequencing. PYHIN DNA sensors (e.g., AIM2, IFI16) were also expressed at high levels in Primary T cells, which can induce apoptosis when bound to cytoplasmic DNA. Therefore, transfection of primary T cells appears to be limited at the level of cellular uptake and/or DNA sensing in the cytoplasm, so both of these factors should be considered in the development of future viral and non-viral T cell gene delivery methods.
Monoclonal antibodies are high value agents used for disease therapy (‘biologic drugs’) or as diagnostic tools which are widely used in the health care sector. They are generally manufactured in mammalian cells, in particular Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells cultured in defined media, and are harvested from the medium. Rheb is a small GTPase which, when bound to GTP, activates mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a protein kinase that drives anabolic processes including protein synthesis and ribosome biogenesis. Here we show that certain constitutively-active mutants of Rheb drive faster protein synthesis in CHO cells and increase the expression of proteins involved in the processing of secreted proteins via the endoplasmic reticulum, which expands in response to expression of Rheb. Active Rheb mutants, in particular Rheb[T23M], drive increased cell number under serum-free conditions similar to those used in the biotechnology industry. Rheb[T23M] also enhances the expression of the reporter protein luciferase and, especially strongly, the secreted Gaussia luciferase. Moreover, Rheb[T23M] markedly (2-3 fold) enhances the amount of this luciferase and of a model immunoglobulin into the medium. Our data clearly demonstrate that expressing Rheb[T23M] in CHO cells provides a simple approach to promoting cell growth in defined medium and the production of secreted proteins of high commercial value
The mechanical properties of biofilms can be used to predict biofilm deformation, for example under fluid flow. We used magnetic tweezers to spatially map the compliance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms at the micron scale, then used modeling to assess its effects on biofilm deformation. Biofilms were grown in capillary flow cells with Reynolds numbers (Re) ranging 0.28 to 13.9, bulk dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations from 1 mg/L to 8 mg/L, and bulk calcium ion (Ca2+) concentrations of 0 and 100 mg CaCl2/L. Higher Re numbers resulted in more uniform biofilm morphologies. The biofilm was stiffer at the center of the flow cell than near the walls. Lower bulk DO led to more stratified biofilms. Higher Ca2+ led to increased stiffness and more uniform mechanical properties. Using the experimental mechanical properties, fluid-structure interaction models predicted up to 64% greater deformations for heterogeneous biofilms, compared to a homogeneous biofilms with the same average properties. However, the error depended on the biofilm morphology and flow regime. Our results show significant spatial mechanical variability exists at the micron scale, and that this variability can potentially affect biofilm deformation. The average mechanical properties, provided in many studies, should be used with caution when predicting biofilm deformation.
pH is an important factor affecting the growth and production of microorganisms; especially, it is effective on the efficiency of ethanologenic microorganisms. It can change the ionization state of metabolites via the change in the charge of their functional groups that may lead to metabolic alteration. Here, we estimated the ionization state of metabolites and balanced the charge of reactions in genome-scale metabolic models of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Escherichia coli, and Zymomonas mobilis at pH levels 5, 6, and 7. The robustness analysis was first implemented to anticipate the effect of proton exchange flux on growth rates for the constructed metabolic models at various pH. In accordance with previous experimental reports, the models predict that Z. mobilis is more sensitive to pH rather than S. cerevisiae and the yeast is more regulated by pH rather than E. coli. Then, a systemic approach was proposed to predict the pH effect on metabolic change and to find effective reactions on ethanol production in S. cerevisiae. The correlated reactions with ethanol production at predicted optimal pH in a range of proton exchange rates determined by robustness analysis were identified using the Pearson correlation coefficient. Then, fluxes of these reactions were applied to cluster the various pHs by principal component analysis and to identify the role of these reactions on metabolic differentiation because of pH change. Finally, 12 reactions were selected for up and down-regulation to improve ethanol production. Enzyme Regulators of the selected reactions were identified using the Brenda database and 11 selected regulators were screened and optimized via Plackett-Burman and 2-level full factorial designs, respectively. The proposed approach has enhanced yields of ethanol from 0.18 to 0.36 mol/mol carbon. Hence, not only a comprehensive approach for understanding the effect of pH on metabolism was proposed in this work, but also it successfully introduced key manipulations for ethanol overproduction.
The heavy metals pollution represents one of the important issues in the environmental field since they are involved in many pathologies from cancer, neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. We propose an innovative portable biosensor for the determination of traces of trivalent Arsenic (AsIII) and bivalent mercury (HgII) in water. The system implements a strategy combining two advanced sensing modules consisting in (a) a whole cell based on engineered Escherichia coli as selective sensing element towards the metals and (b) an electrochemical miniaturised silicon device with three microelectrodes and a portable reading system. The sensing mechanism relies on the selective recognition from the bacterium of given metals producing the 4-aminophenol (PAP) redox active mediator detected through a cyclic voltammetry analysis. The miniaturized biosensor is able to operate a portable, robust and high-sensitivity detection of AsIII with a sensitivity of 0.122 µA ppb-1, LoD of 1.5 ppb and a LoQ of 5 ppb. The LoD value is one order of magnitude below of the value indicated to WHO to be dangerous (10 μg/L). The system was proved to be fully versatile being effective in the detection of Hg(II) as well. A first study on Hg(II) showed sensitivity value of 2.11 µA/ppb a LOD value of 0.1 ppb and LoQ value of 0.34 ppb. Also in this case, the detected LOD was ten time lower than that indicated by WHO (1 ppb). These results pave the way for advanced sensing strategies suitable for the environmental monitoring and the public safety.