Optimization of a GDNF production method based on Semliki Forest virus vector

Pablo Vicente Torres-Ortega, Cristian Smerdou, Eduardo Ansorena, María Cristina Ballesteros-Briones, Eva Martisova, Elisa Garbayo, María J Blanco-Prieto
European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2021 January 19, : 105726
Human glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (hGDNF) is the most potent dopaminergic factor described so far, and it is therefore considered a promising drug for Parkinson's disease (PD) treatment. However, the production of therapeutic proteins with a high degree of purity and a specific glycosylation pattern is a major challenge that hinders its commercialization. Although a variety of systems can be used for protein production, only a small number of them are suitable to produce clinical-grade proteins. Specifically, the baby hamster kidney cell line (BHK-21) has shown to be an effective system for the expression of high levels of hGDNF, with appropriate post-translational modifications and protein folding. This system, which is based on the electroporation of BHK-21 cells using a Semliki Forest virus (SFV) as expression vector, induces a strong shut-off of host cell protein synthesis that simplify the purification process. However, SFV vector exhibits a temperature-dependent cytopathic effect on host cells, which could limit hGDNF expression. The aim of this study was to improve the expression and purification of hGDNF using a biphasic temperature cultivation protocol that would decrease the cytopathic effect induced by SFV. Here we show that an increase in the temperature from 33°C to 37°C during the "shut-off period", produced a significant improvement in cell survival and hGDNF expression. In consonance, this protocol led to the production of almost 3-fold more hGDNF when compared to the previously described methods. Therefore, a "recovery period" at 37°C before cells are exposed at 33°C is crucial to maintain cell viability and increase hGDNF expression. The protocol described constitutes an efficient and highly scalable method to produce highly pure hGDNF.

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