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Mammalian protein expression and characterization tools for next generation biologics

Time: Fri 2021-06-11 10.00

Location:, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Biotechnology

Doctoral student: Niklas Thalén , Proteomik och nanobioteknologi, Proteinteknologi, Royal institute of technology, Rockberg lab

Opponent: Professor Kerstin Otte, Hochschule Biberach, Tyskland

Supervisor: Professor Johan Rockberg, Proteomik och nanobioteknologi, Proteinteknologi

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Protein therapeutics are increasingly important for modern medicine. Novel recombinant proteins developed today can bind towards their target with high specificity and with low adverse effect. This has enabled the treatment of diseases that for a few years ago were deemed uncurable. Discovery of therapeutic proteins is driven through protein engineering, a field that is in constant expansion. And, through artificial construction of recombinant proteins, a large array of diseases can be defeated. The function and quality of these protein therapeutics rely on the correct folding, assembly and residue modification that occurs during their production within a living production cell host. Furthermore, producing them in large quantities are essential for accessibility of the best biopharmaceuticals available. Commonly, mammalian cells are the production host of choice when it comes to production of biopharmaceuticals. Mainly, due to the conserved nature of protein expression pathways within its biological class. Although an evergrowing number of biopharmaceuticals are produced in mammalian cells, there is always room for improvement. Development of novel recombinant protein therapeutics rely on accurate production of the protein. And if this is not achieved, a potential biopharmaceutical will never see the light of day. Furthermore, limited production capabilities can hamper product quality, with less efficacy and increased side-effects as a result. This thesis examines several different pathways for improvements on recombinant protein production for pharmaceutical purposes in mammalian cells. First, the basics of recombinant protein technology and mammalian cell function is outlined. Followed by a summary of six scientific articles revolving within expression and characterization tools for mammalian produced proteins. In paper I, utilization of transcriptomics identifies genes involved in protein expression, which enable the production of a difficult-to-express protein with up to a 150-fold greater activity. Furthermore, in paper IV, transcriptomics reveals genomic differences in a novel cell line that exhibit several fold protein expression capabilities. Besides omics technologies, methods for recombinant protein expression and modification are presented that generate more useable product for several different protein families. And, a protocol for the generation of a pre matured split-GFP variant is presented. Lastly, in paper VI, a mammalian cell display method with an optimized setting that enables precise epitope mapping of glycosylated antigens in a high throughput manner is outlined. With this method, the epitope of four neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 is determined. For all of the papers involved within the presented thesis, mammalian cell production of recombinant proteins is the common denominator. Exploring the capabilities of mammalian cell production of current and next-generation biopharmaceuticals is of utter importance to continue the struggle against the gruesome nature of human diseases.