Engineering of mammalian production cell lines to improve titer and quality of biopharmaceuticals is a top priority of the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry providing protein therapeutics to patients worldwide. While many engineering strategies have been successful in the past decade they were often based on the over-expression of a single transgene and therefore limited to addressing a single bottleneck in the cell's production capacity. We provide evidence that ectopic expression of the global metabolic sensor and processing protein mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), simultaneously improves key bioprocess-relevant characteristics of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell-derived production cell lines such as cell growth (increased cell size and protein content), proliferation (increased cell-cycle progression), viability (decreased apoptosis), robustness (decreased sensitivity to sub-optimal growth factor and oxygen supplies) and specific productivity of secreted human glycoproteins. Cultivation of mTOR-transgenic CHO-derived cell lines engineered for secretion of a therapeutic IgG resulted in antibody titers of up to 50 pg/cell/day, which represents a four-fold increase compared to the parental production cell line. mTOR-based engineering of mammalian production cell lines may therefore have a promising future in biopharmaceutical manufacturing of human therapeutic proteins. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2011; 108:853–866. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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