A Bioreactor Method to Generate High-titer, Genetically Stable, Clinical-isolate Human Cytomegalovirus

Bio Protoc. 2017 Nov 5;7(21):e2589. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.2589.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in transplant patients and a leading cause of congenital birth defects (Saint Louis, 2016). Vaccination and therapeutic studies often require scalable cell culture production of wild type virus, represented by clinical isolates. Obtaining sufficient stocks of wild-type clinical HCMV is often labor intensive and inefficient due to low yield and genetic loss, presenting a barrier to studies of clinical isolates. Here we report a bioreactor method based on continuous infection, where retinal pigment epithelial (ARPE-19) cells adhered to microcarrier beads are infected in a bioreactor and used to produce high-titers of clinical isolate HCMV that maintain genetic integrity of key viral tropism factors and the viral genome. In this bioreactor, an end-stage infection can be maintained by regular addition of uninfected ARPE-19 cells, providing convenient preparation of 107-108 pfu/ml of concentrated TB40/E IE2-EYFP stocks without daily cell passaging or trypsinization. Overall, this represents a 100-fold increase in gain of virus production of 100-times compared to conventional static-culture plates, while requiring 90% less handling time. Moreover, this continuous infection environment has the potential to monitor infection dynamics with applications for real-time tracking of viral evolution.

Keywords: Bioreactor; Clinical isolate; Continuous infection culture; Human cytomegalovirus; Microbeads (Microcarrier beads); Viral tropism.