Scientific publications

Optimization of a GDNF production method based on Semliki Forest virus vector

Apr 1, 2021 | Magazine: European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Pablo Vicente Torres-Ortega, Cristian Smerdou, Eduardo Ansorena, María Cristina Ballesteros-Briones, Eva Martisova, Elisa Garbayo, María J Blanco-Prieto


Human glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (hGDNF) is the most potent dopaminergic factor described so far, and it is therefore considered a promising drug for Parkinson's disease (PD) treatment. However, the production of therapeutic proteins with a high degree of purity and a specific glycosylation pattern is a major challenge that hinders its commercialization. Although a variety of systems can be used for protein production, only a small number of them are suitable to produce clinical-grade proteins. Specifically, the baby hamster kidney cell line (BHK-21) has shown to be an effective system for the expression of high levels of hGDNF, with appropriate post-translational modifications and protein folding.

This system, which is based on the electroporation of BHK-21 cells using a Semliki Forest virus (SFV) as expression vector, induces a strong shut-off of host cell protein synthesis that simplify the purification process. However, SFV vector exhibits a temperature-dependent cytopathic effect on host cells, which could limit hGDNF expression. The aim of this study was to improve the expression and purification of hGDNF using a biphasic temperature cultivation protocol that would decrease the cytopathic effect induced by SFV. Here we show that an increase in the temperature from 33°C to 37°C during the "shut-off period", produced a significant improvement in cell survival and hGDNF expression.

In consonance, this protocol led to the production of almost 3-fold more hGDNF when compared to the previously described methods. Therefore, a "recovery period" at 37°C before cells are exposed at 33°C is crucial to maintain cell viability and increase hGDNF expression. The protocol described constitutes an efficient and highly scalable method to produce highly pure hGDNF.

CITATION  Eur J Pharm Sci. 2021 Apr 1;159:105726. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2021.105726. Epub 2021 Jan 19.