Heterologous protein production capacity of mammalian cells cultivated as monolayers and microtissues

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2006 Jan 5;93(1):169-80. doi: 10.1002/bit.20679.


A precise understanding of processes managing heterologous protein production in vitro and in vivo is essential for the manufacture of sophisticated biopharmaceuticals as well as for future gene therapy and tissue engineering initiatives. Capitalizing on the gravity-enforced self-assembly of monodispersed cells into coherent (multicellular) microtissues we studied heterologous protein production of microtissues and monolayers derived from cell lines and primary cells engineered/transduced for (i) constitutive, (ii) proliferation-controlled, (iii) macrolide-, or (iv) gas-inducible expression of the human placental secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) and of the Bacillus stearothermophilus-derived secreted alpha-amylase (SAMY). Specific productivity of cells assembled in microtissues was up to 20-fold higher than isogenic monolayer cultures. Diffusion across microtissues could be further increased by HUVEC-mediated vascularization. As well as higher specific protein productivities, microtissues were also more efficient than monolayer cultures in assembling transgenic lentiviral particles. Our results showed that mammalian cells embedded in a tissue-like three-dimensional (3D) microenvironment exhibit increased production capacity. This observation should be considered for gene therapy and tissue engineering scenarios as well as for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / biosynthesis*
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / genetics
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Geobacillus stearothermophilus / enzymology*
  • Geobacillus stearothermophilus / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Pregnancy Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Alkaline Phosphatase