Homogenous overexpression of the extracellular matrix protein Netrin-1 in a hollow fiber bioreactor

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology August 2021 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-021-11438-0

Aniel Moya-Torres et al.

Key Points:

  • Hollow fiber bioreactor produces substantial yields of homogenous Netrin-1
  • High production yields in the bioreactor do not impair Netrin-1 proteoglycan quality
Diagram of hollow fiber bioreactor
Production of Netrin-1 in a hollow fiber bioreactor


The production of recombinant proteins for functional and biophysical studies, especially in the field of structural determination, still represents a challenge as high quality and quantities are needed to adequately perform experiments. This is in part solved by optimizing protein constructs and expression conditions to maximize the yields in regular flask expression systems. Still, work flow and effort can be substantial with no guarantee to obtain improvements. This study presents a combination of workflows that can be used to dramatically increase protein production and improve processing results, specifically for the extracellular matrix protein Netrin-1.

This proteoglycan is an axon guidance cue which interacts with various receptors to initiate downstream signaling cascades affecting cell differentiation, proliferation, metabolism, and survival. We were able to produce large glycoprotein quantities in mammalian cells, which were engineered for protein overexpression and secretion into the media using the controlled environment provided by a hollow fiber bioreactor. Close monitoring of the internal bioreactor conditions allowed for stable production over an extended period of time. In addition to this, Netrin-1 concentrations were monitored in expression media through biolayer interferometry which allowed us to increase Netrin-1 media concentrations tenfold over our current flask systems while preserving excellent protein quality and in solution behavior.

Our particular combination of genetic engineering, cell culture system, protein purification, and biophysical characterization permitted us to establish an efficient and continuous production of high-quality protein suitable for structural biology studies that can be translated to various biological systems.

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