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Review
. 2015 Nov 1;33(6 Pt 1):902-13.
doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.04.010. Epub 2015 Apr 25.

Extraction and Downstream Processing of Plant-Derived Recombinant Proteins

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Review

Extraction and Downstream Processing of Plant-Derived Recombinant Proteins

J F Buyel et al. Biotechnol Adv. .

Abstract

Plants offer the tantalizing prospect of low-cost automated manufacturing processes for biopharmaceutical proteins, but several challenges must be addressed before such goals are realized and the most significant hurdles are found during downstream processing (DSP). In contrast to the standardized microbial and mammalian cell platforms embraced by the biopharmaceutical industry, there are many different plant-based expression systems vying for attention, and those with the greatest potential to provide inexpensive biopharmaceuticals are also the ones with the most significant drawbacks in terms of DSP. This is because the most scalable plant systems are based on the expression of intracellular proteins in whole plants. The plant tissue must therefore be disrupted to extract the product, challenging the initial DSP steps with an unusually high load of both particulate and soluble contaminants. DSP platform technologies can accelerate and simplify process development, including centrifugation, filtration, flocculation, and integrated methods that combine solid-liquid separation, purification and concentration, such as aqueous two-phase separation systems. Protein tags can also facilitate these DSP steps, but they are difficult to transfer to a commercial environment and more generic, flexible and scalable strategies to separate target and host cell proteins are preferable, such as membrane technologies and heat/pH precipitation. In this context, clarified plant extracts behave similarly to the feed stream from microbes or mammalian cells and the corresponding purification methods can be applied, as long as they are adapted for plant-specific soluble contaminants such as the superabundant protein RuBisCO. Plant-derived pharmaceutical proteins cannot yet compete directly with established platforms but they are beginning to penetrate niche markets that allow the beneficial properties of plants to be exploited, such as the ability to produce 'biobetters' with tailored glycans, the ability to scale up production rapidly for emergency responses and the ability to produce commodity recombinant proteins on an agricultural scale.

Keywords: Clarification; Downstream processing; Filtration; Plant molecular farming; Process chromatography; Process economics; Protein purification.

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