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Plant Biotechnol J. 2012 Sep;10(7):851-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2012.00704.x. Epub 2012 May 24.

Moss-based production of asialo-erythropoietin devoid of Lewis A and other plant-typical carbohydrate determinants.

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Plant Biotechnology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Protein therapeutics represent one of the most increasing areas in the pharmaceutical industry. Plants gain acceptance as attractive alternatives for high-quality and economical protein production. However, as the majority of biopharmaceuticals are glycoproteins, plant-specific N-glycosylation has to be taken into consideration. In Physcomitrella patens (moss), glyco-engineering is an applicable tool, and the removal of immunogenic core xylose and fucose residues was realized before. Here, we present the identification of the enzymes that are responsible for terminal glycosylation (α1,4 fucosylation and β1,3 galactosylation) on complex-type N-glycans in moss. The terminal trisaccharide consisting of α1,4 fucose and β1,3 galactose linked to N-acetylglucosamine forms the so-called Lewis A epitope. This epitope is rare on moss wild-type proteins, but was shown to be enriched on complex-type N-glycans of moss-produced recombinant human erythropoietin, while unknown from the native human protein. Via gene targeting of moss galactosyltransferase and fucosyltransferase genes, we identified the gene responsible for terminal glycosylation and were able to completely abolish the formation of Lewis A residues on the recombinant biopharmaceutical.

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