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Biotechnol Adv. 2009 May-Jun;27(3):297-306. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2009.01.008. Epub 2009 Jan 31.

Production of recombinant proteins by microbes and higher organisms.

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  • 1Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti, Drew University, Madison, NJ 07940, USA.


Large proteins are usually expressed in a eukaryotic system while smaller ones are expressed in prokaryotic systems. For proteins that require glycosylation, mammalian cells, fungi or the baculovirus system is chosen. The least expensive, easiest and quickest expression of proteins can be carried out in Escherichia coli. However, this bacterium cannot express very large proteins. Also, for S-S rich proteins, and proteins that require post-translational modifications, E. coli is not the system of choice. The two most utilized yeasts are Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris. Yeasts can produce high yields of proteins at low cost, proteins larger than 50 kD can be produced, signal sequences can be removed, and glycosylation can be carried out. The baculoviral system can carry out more complex post-translational modifications of proteins. The most popular system for producing recombinant mammalian glycosylated proteins is that of mammalian cells. Genetically modified animals secrete recombinant proteins in their milk, blood or urine. Similarly, transgenic plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana and others can generate many recombinant proteins.

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