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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Oct;86(20):7819-22.

Relationship between sugar chain structure and biological activity of recombinant human erythropoietin produced in Chinese hamster ovary cells.

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  • 1Pharmaceutical Laboratory, Kirin Brewery, Gunma, Japan.


Two forms of erythropoietin, EPO-bi and EPO-tetra, with different biological activities were isolated from the culture medium of a recombinant Chinese hamster ovary cell line, B8-300, into which the human erythropoietin gene had been introduced. EPO-bi, an unusual form, showed only one-seventh the in vivo activity and 3 times higher in vitro activity of the previously described recombinant human EPO (standard EPO). In contrast, EPO-tetra showed both in vivo and in vitro activities comparable to those of the standard EPO. EPO-bi, EPO-tetra, and the standard EPO had the same amino acid composition and immunoreactivity. However, structural analyses of their N-linked sugar chains revealed that EPO-bi contains the biantennary complex type as the major sugar chain, while EPO-tetra and the standard EPO contain the tetraantennary complex type as the major sugar chain. From examination of various preparations of recombinant human EPO, we found a positive correlation between the in vivo activity of EPO and the ratio of tetraantennary to biantennary oligosaccharides. These results suggest that higher branching of the N-linked sugar chains is essential for effective expression of in vivo biological activity of EPO.

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