Recombinant proteins, including antibodies and antibody fragments, often contain disulfide bond bridges that are necessary for their folding, stability and function. Production of disulfide-bond-containing proteins in the periplasm of Escherichia coli
has been very useful, due to unique characteristics of the periplasm, for obtaining fully active and correctly folded products and for alleviating downstream processing.
In this study, fed-batch cultivation of Escherichia coli
) for production of Fab D1.3, which is an anti-hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) antibody fragment was carried out at 37ºC, and the bacterial cells were induced by adding 0.1 mM IPTG to the culture medium. Fermentor was sampled over the course of fermentation; the bacterial cells were centrifugally separated from the culture broth and subjected to osmotic shock (with excluding HEWL) and sonication procedures. The resulting fractions were analysed for Fab using a combination of ELISA, SDS-PAGE and Western blotting and changes in product titre, location, and form was assessed throughout growth. It was shown that osmotic shock released the Fab from the periplasm very efficiently and its efficacy was 20-45% more than sonication. This study demonstrates that, at high cell density cultivation in fermentor, target product can appear inside and outside the cells, depending on the time of induction. The maximum amount of Fab (47 mg/l) in the periplasm was reached at 14 hrs cultivation (4 hrs post induction), being suitable time for cell harvest, selective periplasmic extraction and downstream capture. The Fab increasingly leaked into the culture medium, and reached its maximum culture medium titre of ~78 mg/l after 6 hrs post induction. After 16 hrs cultivation (6 hrs post induction) the amount of Fab remained constant in different locations within and outside the cells. Western blot analysis of cell fractions showed that certain amount of the Fab was also produced in the cells as insoluble form.
In this work we showed that the production of Fab in the periplasm during high cell density cultivation of E. coli
in fermentor can be challenging as the product may appear in various locations within and outside the cells. To exploit the advantages of the periplasmic expression systems for purification in downstream processing, bacterial cells should be harvested when they maintain.