To avoid the time consuming, labor intensive seed-train expansion and to improve production reliability and consistency, portions of bulk cryopreserved cells from the same cultivation can be utilized as inocula or alternatively may be used to undertake transient transfections for large-scale bioreactor production. In this study, the conditions for large-scale freezing in cryobags were optimized utilizing a design of experiment approach. We showed that relatively high density of 30–40 × 106 cells/mL and relatively low Me2SO concentrations of 5–6% in the freezing media are optimal to freeze HEK293-EBNA and CHO-S cells in a controlled manner in order to achieve high viable cell recovery and growth post-thawing. The immediate transfer of freshly thawed cells into culture medium resulted in better cell growth compared to cells that were centrifuged in order to remove Me2SO. This was the case as long as the residual Me2SO did not exceed 0.2–0.3%. The best time to perform transient 25 kDa polyethylenimine-mediated transfection of pCEP4-EGFP plasmid into freshly thawed, one-step inoculated cells is after 72–96 h in culture. At this time point, the numbers of EGFP-positive cells in the freshly thawed culture mimic perfectly that of cells grown continuously. Finally, our data showed that it is possible to freeze transiently polyethyleneimine-transfected HEK293-EBNA cells and maintain growth rate and expression of recombinant protein following thawing. The optimal time point for freezing cells was 4 h after transfection. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2008;100: 911–922. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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