Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.117, No.2, 438-452, 2020
Targeted capture of Chinese hamster ovary host cell proteins: Peptide ligand binding by proteomic analysis
The clearance of host cell proteins (HCPs) is of crucial importance in biomanufacturing, given their diversity in composition, structure, abundance, and occasional structural homology with the product. The current approach to HCP clearance in the manufacturing of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) relies on product capture with Protein A followed by removal of residual HCPs in flow-through mode using ion exchange or mixed-mode chromatography. Recent studies have highlighted the presence of "problematic HCP" species, which are either difficult to remove (Group I), can degrade the mAb product (Group II), or trigger immunogenic reactions (Group III). To improve the clearance of these species, we developed a family of synthetic peptides that target HCPs and exhibit low binding to IgG product. In this study, these peptides were conjugated onto chromatographic resins and evaluated in terms of HCP clearance and mAb yield, using an industrial mAb-producing CHO harvest as model supernatant. To gather detailed knowledge on the binding of individual HCPs, the unbound fractions were subjected to shotgun proteomic analysis by mass spectrometry. It was found that these peptide ligands exhibit superior HCP binding capability compared to those of the benchmark commercial resins commonly used in mAb purification. In addition, some peptide-based resins resulted in much lower losses of product yield compared to these commercial supports. The proteomic analysis showed effective capture of many "problematic HCPs" by the peptide ligands, especially some that are weakly bound by commercial media. Collectively, these results indicate that these peptides show great promise toward the development of next-generation adsorbents for safer and cost-effective manufacturing of biologics.