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PloS one

Optimization of heavy chain and light chain signal peptides for high level expression of therapeutic antibodies in CHO cells.


PMID 25706993

Abstract

Translocation of a nascent protein from the cytosol into the ER mediated by its signal peptide is a critical step in protein secretion. The aim of this work was to develop a platform technology to optimize the signal peptides for high level production of therapeutic antibodies in CHO cells. A database of signal peptides from a large number of human immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain (HC) and kappa light chain (LC) was generated. Most of the HC signal peptides contain 19 amino acids which can be divided into three domains and the LC signal peptides contain 22 amino acids. The signal peptides were then clustered according to sequence similarity. Based on the clustering, 8 HC and 2 LC signal peptides were analyzed for their impacts on the production of 5-top selling antibody therapeutics, namely, Herceptin, Avastin, Remicade, Rituxan, and Humira. The best HC and LC signal peptides for producing these 5 antibodies were identified. The optimized signal peptides for Rituxan is 2-fold better compared to its native signal peptides which are available in the public database. Substitution of a single amino acid in the optimized HC signal peptide for Avastin reduced its production significantly. Mass spectrometry analyses revealed that all optimized signal peptides are accurately removed in the mature antibodies. The results presented in this report are particularly important for the production of these 5 antibodies as biosimilar drugs. They also have the potential to be the best signal peptides for the production of new antibodies in CHO cells.