Transient recombinant protein production in glycoengineered Nicotiana benthamiana cell suspension culture

Sara C. Sukenik, Kalimuthu Karuppanan, Qiongyu Li, Carlito B Lebrilla, Somen Nandi, Karen A. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Transient recombinant protein production is a promising alternative to stable transgenic systems, particularly for emergency situations in which rapid production of novel therapeutics is needed. In plants, Agrobacterium tumefaciens can be used as a gene delivery vector for transient expression. A potential barrier for plant-based production of human therapeutics is that different glycosylation patterns are found on plant and mammalian proteins. Since glycosylation can affect the efficacy, safety and stability of a therapeutic protein, methods to control glycan structures and distributions in plant-based systems would be beneficial. In these studies, we performed Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression in glycoengineered plant cell suspension cultures. To reduce the presence of plant-specific glycans on the product, we generated and characterized cell suspension cultures from β-1,2-xylosyltransferase and α-1,3-fucosyltransferase knockdown Nicotiana benthamiana. An anthrax decoy fusion protein was transiently produced in these glycoengineered plant cell suspension cultures through co-culture with genetically engineered Agrobacterium. The mass ratio of Agrobacterium to plant cells used was shown to impact recombinant protein expression levels. N-glycosylation analysis on the anthrax decoy fusion protein produced in glycoengineered N. benthamiana showed a dramatic reduction in plant-specific N-glycans. Overall, the results presented here demonstrate the feasibility of a simple, rapid and scalable process for transient production of recombinant proteins without plant-specific glycans in a glycoengineered plant cell culture host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1205
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 16 2018


  • Agrobacterium tumefaciens
  • Co-culture
  • N-glycosylation
  • Plant cell culture
  • Recombinant protein expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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