Breakage of transgenic tobacco roots for monoclonal antibody release in an ultra-scale down shearing device



Transgenic tobacco roots offer a potential alternative to leaves for monoclonal antibody (MAb) production. A possible method for extraction of MAbs from roots is by homogenization, breaking the roots into fragments to release the antibody. This process was assessed by shearing 10 mm root sections (“roots”) in a 24 mL ultra-scale down shearing device, including an impeller with serrated blade edges, intended to mimic the action of a large-scale homogenizer. Size distributions of the remaining intact roots and root fragments were obtained as a function of shearing time. The data suggest that about 36% of the roots could not be broken under the prevailing conditions and, beyond these unbreakable roots, the fragmentation was approximately first order with respect to intact root number. It was postulated that root breakage in such a high shearing device was due to root-impeller collisions and the particle size data suggest that roots colliding with the impeller were completely fragmented into debris particles of the order of 0.1 mm in length. IgG release normalized to release by grinding appeared to lag behind the number of roots that had fragmented, suggesting that a process of leakage followed fragmentation in the ultra-scale down shearing device. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2014;111: 196–201. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.