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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2009 Nov 1;104(4):663-73. doi: 10.1002/bit.22446.

Synthesis and assembly of a full-length human monoclonal antibody in algal chloroplasts.

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Department of Cell Biology, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Monoclonal antibodies can be effective therapeutics against a variety of human diseases, but currently marketed antibody-based drugs are very expensive compared to other therapeutic options. Here, we show that the eukaryotic green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is capable of synthesizing and assembling a full-length IgG1 human monoclonal antibody (mAb) in transgenic chloroplasts. This antibody, 83K7C, is derived from a human IgG1 directed against anthrax protective antigen 83 (PA83), and has been shown to block the effects of anthrax toxin in animal models. Here we show that 83K7C heavy and light chain proteins expressed in the chloroplast accumulate as soluble proteins that assemble into complexes containing two heavy and two light chain proteins. The algal-expressed 83K7C binds PA83 in vitro with similar affinity to the mammalian-expressed 83K7C antibody. In addition, a second human IgG1 and a mouse IgG1 were also expressed and shown to properly assemble in algal chloroplast. These results show that chloroplasts have the ability to fold and assemble full-length human mAbs, and suggest the potential of algae as a platform for the cost effective production of complex human therapeutic proteins.

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