• sentinel genes;
  • scale-down;
  • minibioreactors;
  • time-course


Scale-down of bioreactors is currently done based on matching one or more measurable parameters such as kLa and P/V, which could result in insufficient process comparability. Currently, there is a lack of genomic translational studies in cell culture scale-down, which could help delineate measurable cellular attributes for improved scale-down. In this study, we scaled-down from a typical bench-scale 5-L bioreactor to a novel high-throughput 35-mL minibioreactor based on matching oxygen transfer rate, which resulted in cell growth and product-related discrepancies using Sp2/0 cells. Performing DNA microarrays on time-course samples from both systems, we identified ∼200 differentially expressed transcripts, presumably because of bioreactor aeration and mixing differences with scale-down. Evaluating these transcripts for bioreactor-relevant cellular functions such as oxidative stress response and DNA damage response, we chose 18 sentinel genes based on their degree of difference and functionality, which we further verified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Tracking the differential expression of Sod1, Apex1, and Odc1 genes, we were able to correlate sparging-related damage and poor mixing, as possible causes for physiological changes such as prolonged culture in minibioreactors. Additionally, to verify our sentinel gene findings, we performed follow-up improved scale-down studies based on gene analysis and measured transcriptomic changes. As a result, qRT-PCR-based genomic profiles and cell growth profiles showed better convergence between the improved minibioreactor conditions and the model 5-L bioreactor. Our results broadly show that based on the knowledge from transcriptomic changes of sentinel gene profiles, it is possible to improve bioreactor scale-down for more comparable processes. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2012