An ultra scale-down approach to assess the impact of the choice of recombinant P. pastoris strain on dewatering performance in centrifuges



Pichia pastoris is becoming a desirable host in the biopharmaceutical industry for therapeutics production. It grows on methanol to high cell densities ≥100 g DCW/L and secretes foreign proteins at high titers. However, the culture conditions to reach high cell densities pose a challenge to the processability by primary recovery operations, in particular centrifugation, used for cell removal. This work aims to assess the impact of recombinant P. pastoris strain selection on centrifugal dewatering. Normally, the choice of P. pastoris recombinant strain is based on best target protein expression levels; however, it is unknown whether the choice of strain will have an impact on performance of centrifugation operation. To achieve this aim, a previously developed laboratory ultra-scale down (USD) methodology that successfully predicted centrifugal dewatering of pilot-scale disk-type machines, was used in this work. Two recombinant P. pastoris strains, namely a X-33 and a glycoengineered Pichia strain, were used to perform fermentations secreting different products. The resulting harvested fermentation culture properties were analyzed and the dewatering performances of a pilot- and a large-scale disk-type centrifuge were evaluated using the USD methodology. The choice of P. pastoris strain was found to have a considerable impact on dewatering performance, with P. pastoris X-33 strain reaching better dewatering levels than the glycoengineered strain. The USD method proved to be a useful tool to determine optimal conditions under which the large scale centrifuge needed to be operated, reducing the need for repeated pilot-scale runs during early stages of process development for therapeutic products. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 28: 1029–1036, 2012