THE BIOPROCESSOR OF THE FUTURE
HOW PLANTS MAKE PROTEINS
Initial efforts at producing proteins in plants focused on establishing stably transgenic crops. These however suffer long developmental time-lines because of inherently long-life cycles. Transient expression of recombinant proteins in plants has since been developed over the last 20 years and involves the infiltration of bacterial cultures into the leaves of Nicotiana Benthamiana plants.
The bacterial system used to infiltrate is based on the soil bacterium Agrobacterium Tumefaciens. The strain used has had its oncogenes removed to prevent the disease symptoms (galls) from occurring in plants caused by wild-type Agrobacterium infections (i.e. they are disarmed). Nicotiana thus acts as a “bio-processor” to produce proteins of interest based on the genes inserted into our high yielding expression vector.
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Due to conservation during evolution, the basic processes that govern production of proteins from DNA code are highly similar across all eukaryotic cells. This means that a gene from any other organism can be recognised, transcribed and translated by plant molecular machinery. This method has been used to successfully produce complex and high molecular weight proteins with multiple subunits in plants. It has even been found that a full length immunoglobulin can be constructed in plant cells sourced from various subunit genes.
Cloning: Using our proprietary vector expression system, we are able to rapidly and efficiently produce high yields of protein product within a week of infiltration.
Infiltration: Our binary vector system allows for ‘plug n play’ manipulation of genetic material. Once a novel gene is inserted into the vector it is then reintroduced into Agrobacterium Tumefaciens, Nicotiana’s natural nemesis.
Incubation: A. tumefaciens is introduced into the leaves of N. benthamiana via vacuum infiltration. Here it will transfer the DNA contained within its plasmid into the plant cell, hijacking the host machinery for translation
Purification: After a few days of protein production, the leaves are harvested and purified protein is then extracted. Combined with our proprietary protein purification system, this allows for novel, high quality protein products to be produced in a 2 weeks. Production in plants also allows for assembly of complex, multi-subunit proteins within plant leaves.