Considerations for the Recovery of Recombinant Proteins from Plants



The past 5 years have seen the commercialization of two recombinant protein products from transgenic plants, and many recombinant therapeutic proteins produced in plants are currently undergoing development. The emergence of plants as an alternative production host has brought new challenges and opportunities to downstream processing efforts. Plant hosts contain a unique set of matrix contaminants (proteins, oils, phenolic compounds, etc.) that must be removed during purification of the target protein. Furthermore, plant solids, which require early removal after extraction, are generally in higher concentration, wider in size range, and denser than traditional bacterial and mammalian cell culture debris. At the same time, there remains the desire to incorporate highly selective and integrative separation technologies (those capable of performing multiple tasks) during the purification process from plant material. The general plant processing and purification scheme consists of isolation of the plant tissue containing the recombinant protein, fractionation of the tissue along with particle size reduction, extraction of the target protein into an aqueous medium, clarification of the crude extract, and finally purification of the product. Each of these areas will be discussed here, focusing on what has been learned and where potential concerns remain. We also present details of how the choice of plant host, along with location within the plant for targeting the recombinant protein, can play an important role in the ultimate ease of recovery and the emergence of regulations governing plant hosts. Major emphasis is placed on three crops, canola, corn, and soy, with brief discussions of tobacco and rice.