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J Immunol Methods. 2005 Nov 30;306(1-2):40-50. Epub 2005 Aug 18.

A quantitative slot blot assay for host cell protein impurities in recombinant proteins expressed in E. coli.

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Malaria Vaccine Development Branch, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Residual host cell protein impurities in recombinant proteins intended for human use must be accurately quantified to help establish their safety. We describe a novel means of host cell protein quantitation, in which a slot blot system was employed together with scanning laser densitometry to allow picogram level sensitivity in detection of residual host cell proteins in unpurified fermentation products and final purified bulk samples. Two allelic forms of merozoite surface protein 1, a promising malaria vaccine candidate antigen currently undergoing evaluation in clinical trials, were expressed in E. coli as clinical grade proteins, refolded, and carried through several chromatographic purification steps. Several lots of these proteins were analyzed with this generic quantitative assay that uses rat polyclonal antibodies generated against soluble and insoluble E. coli proteins. The assay had a detection range of 6.1-1562 ng/mL, with a detection limit of 6.1 ng/mL, comparable to reported ELISA-based methods. This assay proved simple yet very sensitive and accurate, giving highly reproducible results. Thus it is suitable for evaluating host cell protein levels in clinical grade recombinant proteins expressed in E. coli.

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