Plant cell reports

NMR-based structural validation of therapeutic antibody produced in Nicotiana benthamiana.

PMID 25689888


We successfully developed a method for metabolic isotope labeling of recombinant proteins produced in transgenic tobacco. This enabled assessment of structural integrity of plant-derived therapeutic antibodies by NMR analysis. A variety of expression vehicles have been developed for the production of promising biologics, including plants, fungi, bacteria, insects, and mammals. Glycoprotein biologics often experience altered folding and post-translational modifications that are typified by variant glycosylation patterns. These differences can dramatically affect their efficacy, as exemplified by therapeutic antibodies. However, it is generally difficult to validate the structural integrity of biologics produced using different expression vehicles. To address this issue, we have developed and applied a stable-isotope-assisted nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy method for the conformational characterization of recombinant antibodies produced in plants. Nicotiana benthamiana used as a vehicle for the production of recombinant immunoglobulin G (IgG) was grown in a (15)N-enriched plant growth medium. The Fc fragment derived from the (15)N-labeled antibody thus prepared was subjected to heteronuclear two-dimensional (2D) NMR measurements. This approach enabled assessment of the structural integrity of the plant-derived therapeutic antibodies by comparing their NMR spectral properties with those of an authentic IgG-Fc derived from mammalian cells.