• novel vaccine candidate;
  • process development;
  • cGMP lot of vaccine


Ricin is a potent toxin and a potential bioterrorism weapon with no specific countermeasures or vaccines available. The holotoxin is composed of two polypeptide chains linked by a single disulfide bond: the A-chain (RTA), which is an N-glycosidase enzyme, and the B-chain (RTB), a lectin polypeptide that binds galactosyl moieties on the surface of the mammalian target cells. Previously (McHugh et al.), a recombinant truncated form of RTA (rRTA1-33/44-198 protein, herein denoted RVEa™) expressed in Escherichia coli using a codon-optimized gene was shown to be non-toxic, stable, and protective against a ricin challenge in mice. Here, we describe the process development and scale-up at the 12 L fermentation scale, and the current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP)-compliant production of RVEc™ at the 40 L scale. The average yield of the final purified bulk RVEc™ is approximately 16 g/kg of wet cell weight or 1.2 g/L of fermentation broth. The RVEc™ was >99% pure by three HPLC methods and SDS-PAGE. The intact mass and peptide mapping analysis of RVEc™ confirmed the identity of the product and is consistent with the absence of posttranslational modifications. Potency assays demonstrated that RVEc™ was immunoprotective against lethal ricin challenge and elicited neutralizing anti-ricin antibodies in 95–100% of the vaccinated mice. Published 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011.