Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.1, 67-76, 2021
Amplification of EBNA-1 through a single-plasmid vector-based gene amplification system in HEK293 cells as an efficient transient gene expression system
Our previous work showed that there is a limitation in the use of dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr)/methotrexate (MTX)-mediated gene amplification systems in dhfr-non-deficient HEK293 cells, as endogenous dhfr may interfere with the amplification process. In the present study, we successfully generated Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1)-amplified HEK293 cells in a dhfr-non-deficient HEK293 cell background using a single-plasmid vector-based gene amplification system with shRNA targeting the 3 '-UTR of endogenous dhfr. The introduction of this shRNA efficiently downregulated the expression of endogenous dhfr in the HEK293 cells without affecting exogenous dhfr expression. The downregulation of endogenous dhfr improved the efficiency of EBNA-1 amplification, as evidenced by a comparison with the amplification extent in cells lacking shRNA expression at the same MTX concentration. The EBNA-1 expression levels from the EBNA-1-amplified clones selected in this study were higher than those obtained from EBNA-1-amplified clones that were generated using the conventional amplification in our previous study. Consistent with previous studies, EBNA-1 amplification improved the production of the Fc-fusion protein through a specific protein productivity (q(p))-enhancing effect, rather than by improving cell growth or transfection efficiency. In addition, the N-glycan profiles in the Fc-fusion protein produced using this transient gene expression (TGE) system were not affected by EBNA-1 amplification. These results indicate the potential utility of EBNA-1-amplified mammalian cells, developed using a single-plasmid vector-based gene amplification system, for efficient protein production.