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Green biofactories: Recombinant protein production in plants

Ahmad, A., Pereira, E.O., Conley, A.J., Richman, A.S., Menassa, R. (2010). Green biofactories: Recombinant protein production in plants, 4(3), 242-259.


Until recently, low accumulation levels have been the major bottleneck for plant-made recombinant protein production. However, several breakthroughs have been described in the past few years allowing for very high accumulation levels, mainly through chloroplast transformation and transient expression, coupled with subcellular targeting and protein fusions. Another important factor influencing our ability to use plants for the production of recombinant proteins is the availability of quick and simple purification strategies. Recent developments using oleosin, zein, ELP and hydrophobin fusion tags have shown promise as efficient and cost-effective methods for non-chromatographic separation. Furthermore, plant glycosylation is a major barrier to the parenteral administration of plant-made biopharmaceuticals because of potential immunogenicity concerns. A major effort has been invested in humanizing plant glycosylation, and several groups have been able to reduce or eliminate immunogenic glycans while introducing mammalian-specific glycans. Finally, biosafety issues and public perception are essential for the acceptance of plants as bioreactors for the production of proteins. Over recent years, it has become clear that food and feed plants carry an inherent risk of contaminating our food supply, and thus much effort has focused on the use of non-food plants. Presently, Nicotiana benthamiana has emerged as the preferred host for transient expression, while tobacco is most frequently used for chloroplast transformation. In this review, we focus on the main issues hindering the economical production of recombinant proteins in plants, describing the current efforts for addressing these limitations, and we include an extensive list of recent patents generated with the intention of solving these limitations. © 2010 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

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