Antibody Purification from Tobacco by Protein A Affinity Chromatography
Hey, Carolyn McKenzie
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Antibodies represent the largest group of biopharmaceuticals. Due to the nature of their clinical applications, they often need to be produced in large quantities. Plants have distinct advantages of producing large quantities of recombinant proteins, and tobacco is arguably the most promising plant for plant-made-pharmaceuticals (PMP) due to its high biomass yields and robust transformation technology. However, to produce proteins using transgenic tobacco for human applications, purification of the proteins is challenging. On the other hand, Protein A, a bacterial cell wall protein isolated from Staphylococcus aureus that binds to the Fc regions of immunoglobulins, is useful to the isolation and purification of antibodies. An affinity chromatography purification step utilizing Protein A resin introduced early in the purification process can reduce successive unit operations, thereby reducing the overall process cost. However, directly applying tobacco extract to Protein A chromatography columns may be problematic due to the non-specific binding of native tobacco proteins (NTP). In this project, three different Protein A resins, ProSepvA High Capacity, ProSep-vA Ultra, and ProSep Ultra Plus, marketed by Millipore, were studied to provide valuable information for future downstream processes for antibody purification from transgenic tobacco. The efficiency of the post load wash buffer to reduce non-specific binding of NTP to the ProSep A resins were evaluated by altering the ionic strength and pH. Lower salt concentrations of sodium chloride (NaCl) in the post load wash preformed best at reducing the non-specific binding of NTP to the ProSep A resins, while higher salt concentrations were more effective at reducing the amount of NTP contaminants present during elution of the columns. Using a post load wash buffer with an intermediate pH between the binding buffer and the elution buffer was more efficient at eluting our model antibody, human IgG. However, lowering the ionic strength and the pH of the post load wash buffer resulted in a greater presence of IgG prematurely eluting from the ProSep A resins. The non-specific binding of NTP to the resins reduced the dynamic binding capacity (DBC) of the resins after repeated cycles of tobacco extract samples were loaded onto the column. Nevertheless, cleaning the columns with denaturing solutions, such as urea or guanidine hydrochloride, every 8-10 cycles was effective in regenerating the DBC of the resins and prolonging the life cycle of the resins. This is important to evaluating the economic feasibility of directly using Protein A chromatography to recover antibodies from tobacco extract. Of the three Protein A resins studied, ProSep Ultra Plus performed best for antibody purification from tobacco using a PBS wash buffer with a lower ionic strength of 140mM NaCl and an intermediate pH of 5.
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