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Biotechnol Prog. 1998 Jul;14(4):607-14.

Process and economic evaluation of the extraction and purification of recombinant beta-glucuronidase from transgenic corn

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, and ProdiGene, Inc., 1500 Research Parkway, Suite 220, College Station, Texas 77845, USA.


A process model for the recovery and purification of recombinant beta-glucuronidase (rGUS) from transgenic corn was developed, and the process economics were estimated. The base-case bioprocessing plant operates 7500 h/year processing 1.74 million (MM) kg of transgenic corn containing 0.015% (db) rGUS. The process consists of milling the corn into flour, extraction of protein by using 50 mM sodium phosphate buffer, and rGUS purification by ion exchange and hydrophobic interaction chromatography. About 137 kg of rGUS of 83% (db) purity can be produced annually. The production cost amounted to $43 000/kg of rGUS. The cost of milling, protein extraction, and rGUS purification accounted for 6, 40, and 48% of annual operating cost, respectively. The cost of transgenic corn was 31% of the raw material costs or 6% of the annual operating cost. About 78% of the cost of buffer and water were incurred in the protein extraction section, while 88% of other consumables were from the purification section. The sensitivity analysis indicated that rGUS can be produced profitably from corn even at the 0.015% (db) expression level, assuming a selling price of $100 000/kg GUS. An increase in rGUS expression levels up to 0.08% significantly improves the process economics.


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