Proliferation of mammalian cells can be controlled by low cultivation temperature. However, depending on cell type and expression system, varying effects of a temperature shift on heterologous protein production have been reported. Here, we characterize growth behavior and productivity of the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line XM111-10 engineered to synthesize the model-product-secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP). Shift of cultivation temperature from 37°C to 30°C caused a growth arrest mainly in the G1 phase of the cell cycle concomitant with an up to 1.7-fold increase of specific productivity. A low temperature cultivation provided 3.4 times higher overall product yield compared to a standard cultivation at 37°C. The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of low temperature on growth and productivity of mammalian cells are poorly understood. Separation of total protein extracts by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed altered expression levels of CHO-K1 proteins after decrease in cultivation temperature to 30°C. These changes in the proteome suggest that mammalian cells respond actively to low temperature by synthesizing specific cold-inducible proteins. In addition, we provide the first evidence that the cold response of mammalian cells includes changes in postranslational protein modifications. Two CHO proteins were found to be phosphorylated at tyrosine residues following downshift of cultivation temperature to 30°C. Elucidating cellular events during cold exposure is necessary for further optimization of host-cell lines and expression systems and can provide new strategies for metabolic engineering. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 63: 573–582, 1999.
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