Strategies to improve and balance the expression levels of recombinant proteins in mammalian cell lines

Abstract: Proteins are the building blocks of all living organisms enabling us to function and survive. There are more than 100,000 different proteins in the human body performing a variety of vital tasks. Examples of essential proteins are antibodies defending our body against foreign invaders and hemoglobulin responsible for importing oxygen to our cells and exporting carbon dioxide out from our cells. Consequently, mutations leading to dysfunctional proteins is the cause of many known diseases. Fortunately, the advancement of modern medicine has enabled proteins also to be employed as therapeutics to treat and cure various conditions. For instance, human insulin is recombinantly produced in the bacterium E. coli and is used as a biopharmaceutical to treat patients with Diabetes. The increased knowledge about diseases, their cause, and what cellular pathway to target has led to the discovery of many novel and complex biologics. Hence, the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals is a rapidly emerging field that enables the production of complex molecules that are target-specific, effective, and highly active in the human body. Mammalian cell lines are often the preferred cell factories for manufacturing biologics since they generate proteins with human-like post-translational modifications, which are often essential features to obtain functional, safe, and effective therapeutics. Unfortunately, these life-saving biologics are costly, making them affordable for a fraction of patients worldwide. Therefore, one of the goals of the biotech industry is to make accessible biologics for everyone who needs it regardless of financial background. One way to achieve this goal is to engineer mammalian cell factories to improve the quantity and quality of biopharmaceuticals while reducing the production cost.The results presented in this thesis are the outcome of five different studies aiming to improve and balance the expression levels of recombinant proteins in mammalian cell lines. In the first study, we investigated the productivity differences between mammalian cell lines from different origins. In the second and third projects, by utilizing transcriptomic analysis, helper genes were identified for improving the quantity and quality of two difficult-to-express biologics. The fourth study generated an easy-to-use toolbox for balancing the expression levels of recombinant proteins in mammalian cell lines. In the final project, the toolbox from the fourth project was employed to develop an in vitro cell-based cancer assay which is a crucial tool in cancer research and drug discovery.In summary, this thesis provides strategies to improve the production process of biologics in mammalian cell lines and thereby contributes to the goal of offering safe, effective, and affordable medicine to patients in every part of this world.

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