Multiplexed engineering glycosyltransferase genes

Therapeutic antibodies are decorated with complex-type N-glycans that significantly affect their biodistribution and bioactivity. The N-glycan structures on antibodies are incompletely processed in wild-type CHO cells due to their limited glycosylation capacity. To improve N-glycan processing, glycosyltransferase genes have been traditionally overexpressed in CHO cells to engineer the cellular N-glycosylation pathway by using random integration, which is often associated with large clonal variations in gene expression levels. In order to minimize the clonal variations, we used recombinase-mediated-cassette-exchange (RMCE) technology to overexpress a panel of 42 human glycosyltransferase genes to screen their impact on antibody N-linked glycosylation. The bottlenecks in the N-glycosylation pathway were identified and then released by overexpressing single or multiple critical genes.

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Fig: Overview of RMCE and plasmid vectors for the generation of stably transfected CHO cell pools that co-express IgG and human glycosyltransferase genes.

Overexpressing B4GalT1 gene alone in the CHO cells produced antibodies with more than 80% galactosylated bi-antennary N-glycans. Combinatorial overexpression of B4GalT1 and ST6Gal1 produced antibodies containing more than 70% sialylated bi-antennary N-glycans. In addition, antibodies with various tri-antennary N-glycans were obtained for the first time by overexpressing MGAT5 alone or in combination with B4GalT1 and ST6Gal1. The various N-glycan structures and the method for producing them in this work provide opportunities to study the glycan structure-and-function and develop novel recombinant antibodies for addressing different therapeutic applications.

Nguyen, N.T.B., Lin, J., Tay, S.J. et al. Multiplexed engineering glycosyltransferase genes in CHO cells via targeted integration for producing antibodies with diverse complex-type N-glycans. Sci Rep11, 12969 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92320-x

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