Secretory pathway optimization of CHO producer cells by co-engineering of the mitosRNA-1978 target genes CerS2 and Tbc1D20
- Lisa A. Pieper a, Michaela Strotbek a, Till Wenger b, Martin Gamer b, Monilola A. Olayioye a , c , , , Angelika Hausser a , c , ,
- a Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology, University of Stuttgart, Germany
- b Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co.KG, Birkendorfer Str. 65, 88400 Biberach an der Riß, Germany
- c Stuttgart Research Center Systems Biology, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells are the most commonly used host for the production of biopharmaceuticals. Although transcription and translation engineering strategies have been employed to generate high-producer cell clones, the secretory pathway still remains a bottleneck in cellular productivity. In this study we show that ectopic expression of a human mitochondrial genome-encoded small RNA (mitosRNA-1978) in an IgG expressing CHO cell line strongly improved specific productivity by functioning in a microRNA-like fashion. By next generation sequencing we identified two endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-localized proteins, Ceramide Synthase 2 (CerS2) and the Rab1 GAP Tbc domain family member 20 (Tbc1D20), as target genes of mitosRNA-1978. Combined transient siRNA-mediated knockdown of CerS2 and Tbc1D20 resulted in increased specific productivity of CHO-IgG cells, thus recapitulating the mitosRNA-1978 phenotype. In support of a function in vesicular trafficking at the level of the ER, we provide evidence for altered cellular ceramide composition upon CerS2 knockdown and increased activity of Rab1 in CHO-IgG cells depleted of Tbc1D20. Importantly, in a fed-batch process, the combined stable knockdown of CerS2 and Tbc1D20 in CHO-IgG cells resulted in dramatically increased antibody production which was accompanied by enhanced cell growth. Thus, by identifying mitosRNA-1978 target genes in combination with an informed shRNA-mediated co-engineering approach we successfully optimized the secretory capacity of CHO producer cells used for the manufacturing of therapeutic proteins.