Low glucose concentrations within typical industrial operating conditions have minimal effect on the transcriptome of recombinant CHO cells



Typically, mammalian cell culture medium contains high glucose concentrations that are analogous to diabetic levels in humans, suggesting that mammalian cells are cultivated in excessive glucose. Using RNA-Seq, this study characterized the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell transcriptome under two glucose concentrations to assess the genetic effects associated with metabolic pathways, in addition to other global responses. The initial extracellular glucose concentrations used represented high (30 mM) and low (10 mM) glucose conditions, where at the time the transcriptomes were compared, the glucose concentrations were approximately 24 and 4.4 mM for the mid-exponential cultures, where 4.4 mM represents a common target concentration in the biopharmaceutical industry for controlled fed-batch cultures. A recombinant CHO cell line producing a monoclonal antibody was used, such that the impact on glycosylation genes could be evaluated. Relatively few genes were identified as being significantly different (FDR ≤ 0.01) between the high and low glucose conditions, for example, only 575 genes, and only 40 of these genes had 2-fold or greater differences. Gene expression differences for glycolysis, TCA cycle, and glycosylation-related reactions were minimal and unlikely to have biological significance. This transcriptome study indicates that low glucose concentrations in the culture medium are unlikely to cause any biologically significant or detrimental changes to CHO cells at the transcriptome level. Furthermore, it is well-known that maintaining low glucose concentrations in fed-batch cultures can reduce lactate production, which in turn improves process outcomes. Taken together, the transcriptome data supports the continued development of low glucose-based processes to control lactate. © 2017 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 33:771–785, 2017