Production of analytical quantities of recombinant proteins in Chinese hamster ovary cells using sodium butyrate to elevate gene expression

J Biotechnol. 1991 Jun;19(1):35-47. doi: 10.1016/0168-1656(91)90073-5.


Sodium butyrate was used to enhance expression levels and thereby facilitate the generation of analytical quantities of nine different tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) analogues expressed under the control of the cytomegalovirus immediate early (CMV IE) promoter by the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) mammalian expression system. Production involved growth in roller bottles, using serum free or low serum media formulations, together with repetitive, sodium butyrate inductions. Average inductions in the presence of sodium butyrate ranged from 2 to 9-fold relative to uninduced controls, using cell lines with no previous butyrate exposure. Retardation of growth rate by butyrate minimized the need to split cells during the production runs, extending longevity of roller bottles containing cells secreting at induced levels. SDS-PAGE analyses indicate a consistently high percentage of single-chain material. Measurements of specific activity and fibrinogen fragment enhancement for one of the analogues demonstrate that neither of these two critical parameters are affected by production in the presence of butyrate. Induction kinetic data and growth curves for the expression of sCD4 under control of the SV40 early promoter demonstrate that the benefits of butyrate can be realized with different promoters and heterologous genes, and are additive when used in conjunction with an amplified cell line constitutively expressing at elevated levels. This work demonstrates the practical application of sodium butyrate in the production of analytical quantities of protein from the CHO expression system, and suggests a role for sodium butyrate in commercial scale processes as well.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / genetics
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • Butyric Acid
  • CD4 Antigens / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Immediate-Early Proteins*
  • Kinetics
  • Ovary
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Simian virus 40 / genetics
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / biosynthesis
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / genetics
  • Transfection


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Butyrates
  • CD4 Antigens
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • immediate-early proteins, cytomegalovirus
  • Butyric Acid
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator