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The effect of dissolved oxygen on the production and the glycosylation profile of recombinant human erythropoietin produced from CHO cells



Human recombinant erythropoietin (rHuEPO) was produced from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells transfected with the human EPO gene. The cells were grown in batch cultures in controlled bioreactors in which the set-points for dissolved oxygen varied between 3% and 200%. The cell-specific growth rate and final cell yield was significantly lower under hyperoxic conditions (200% DO). However, there was no significant difference in growth rates at other oxygen levels compared to control cultures run under a normoxic condition (50% DO). The specific productivity of EPO was significantly lower at a DO set-point of 3% and 200% but maintained a consistently high value between 10% to 100% DO. The EPO produced under all conditions as analyzed by two-dimensional electrophoresis showed a molecular weight range of 33 to 37 kDa and a low isoelectric point range of 3.5 to 5.0. This corresponds to a highly glycosylated and sialylated protein with a profile showing at least seven distinct isoforms. The glycan pattern of isolated samples of EPO was analyzed by weak anion exchange (WAX) HPLC and by normal-phase HPLC incorporating sequential digestion with exoglycosidase arrays. Assigned structures were confirmed by mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS). The most prominent glycan structures were core fucosylated tetranntenary with variable sialylation. However, significant biantennary, triantennary, and non-fucosylated glycans were also identified. Detailed analysis of these glycan structures produced under variable dissolved oxygen levels did not show consistently significant variations except for the ratio of fucosylated to non-fucosylated isoforms. Maximum core fucosylation (80%) was observed at 50% and 100% DO, whereas higher or lower DO levels resulted in reduced fucosylation. This observation of lower fucosylation at high or low DO levels is consistent with previous data reported for glycoprotein production in insect cells. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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