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Plant Biotechnol J. 2010 Aug;8(6):719-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2010.00503.x. Epub 2010 Mar 7.

Production of therapeutic proteins in algae, analysis of expression of seven human proteins in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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Department of Cell Biology and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Recombinant proteins are widely used today in many industries, including the biopharmaceutical industry, and can be expressed in bacteria, yeasts, mammalian and insect cell cultures, or in transgenic plants and animals. In addition, transgenic algae have also been shown to support recombinant protein expression, both from the nuclear and chloroplast genomes. However, to date, there are only a few reports on recombinant proteins expressed in the algal chloroplast. It is unclear whether this is because of few attempts or of limitations of the system that preclude expression of many proteins. Thus, we sought to assess the versatility of transgenic algae as a recombinant protein production platform. To do this, we tested whether the algal chloroplast could support the expression of a diverse set of current or potential human therapeutic proteins. Of the seven proteins chosen, >50% expressed at levels sufficient for commercial production. Three expressed at 2%-3% of total soluble protein, while a forth protein accumulated to similar levels when translationally fused to a well-expressed serum amyloid protein. All of the algal chloroplast-expressed proteins are soluble and showed biological activity comparable to that of the same proteins expressed using traditional production platforms. Thus, the success rate, expression levels, and bioactivity achieved demonstrate the utility of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a robust platform for human therapeutic protein production.

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