Development of a protein-free fed-batch process for NS0 cells: studies on regulation of proliferation

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The overall objective of this study was to investigate how NS0 cell proliferation is regulated in protein-free media. The hypothesis was that during the adaptation to growth factor-free media, animal cell lines start to produce their own autocrine growth factors to support proliferation, and after some time in a culture the effects of these factors are lost which results in cessation of proliferation. A chemically defined, protein-free and animal component-free medium was developed for the NS0 cells. This medium was comprised of a basal hybridoma medium to which phosphatidyl¬choline, cholesterol, β-cyclodextrin, ferric citrate and amino acids were added. A fed-batch process was then developed in this medium. The feed profile was optimised in a step-wise manner with a final feed solution containing glucose, glutamine, lipids, amino acids, vitamins, sodium selenite and ethanolamine. Specifically, supplementation with lipids (cholesterol) had a drastic effect on cell growth. Calcium, magnesium and potassium were not depleted during culture and a feed containing also iron, lithium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc did not significantly enhance the cell yield further. More than 8 x 106 viable cells mL-1 and 600 mg antibody L-1 was obtained in the final fed-batch. This corresponded to a 4.3-fold increase in viable cell yield and an 11.4-fold increase in product yield compared to bioreactor batch culture when the dilution of the fed-batch culture was also accounted for. The presence of autocrine growth factors in NS0 cell cultures was initially investigated by studying the effects of conditioned medium (CM). Concentrated CM had a significant positive effect on cell growth and part of this effect could be attributed to factor(s) eluting from a gel-filtration column at 20-25 kDa. In the search for cell-derived factors affecting cell growth the following proteins were identified as released/secreted by the NS0 cells; cyclophilin A, cyclophilin B, cystatin C, D-dopachrome tautomerase, IL-25, isopentenyl-diphosphate delta-isomerise, macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), β2-microglobulin, niemann pick type C2, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), thioredoxin-1, TNF-α, tumour protein translationally controlled-1 and ubiquitin. Zymogram electrophoresis further identified aspartic acid, papain-like cysteine (including cathepsin L) and serine protease activity in the CM. Pro/cathepsin L, CypB, EGF, IFN-α/β/γ, IGF-I/II, leukaemia inhibitory factor, IL-6, IL-11, IL-25, MIF, oncostatin M, TGF-β and TNF-α were excluded as involved in autocrine regulation of NS0 cell proliferation. The serine protease activity was suggested to affect the cells negatively and since the serine protease inhibitor SLPI is also present in NS0 CM, a balance in serine protease activity may be crucial for optimal cell growth. Further, the receptor gp130, known to be associated with myeloma cell growth, was shown to be essential for NS0 cell proliferation as demonstrated by siRNA gene silencing. The results suggested that autocrine regulation of proliferation in NS0 cell cultures involves the receptor subunit gp130.

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