Long term culture promotes changes to growth, gene expression, and metabolism in CHO cells that are independent of production stability

Torres M., BETTS Z., Scholey R., Elvin M., Place S., Hayes A., ...More

Biotechnology and Bioengineering, vol.120, no.9, pp.2389-2402, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 120 Issue: 9
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/bit.28399
  • Journal Name: Biotechnology and Bioengineering
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, INSPEC, MEDLINE, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.2389-2402
  • Keywords: biopharmaceuticals, Chinese hamster ovary cells, long-term culture, metabolomics, production/phenotype stability, transcriptomics
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


Phenotypic stability of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells over long term culture (LTC) presents one of the most pressing challenges in the development of therapeutic protein manufacturing processess. However, our current understanding of the consequences of LTC on recombinant (r−) CHO cell lines is still limited, particularly as clonally-derived cell lines present distinct production stability phenotypes. This study evaluated changes of culture performance, global gene expression, and cell metabolism of two clonally-derived CHO cell lines with a stable or unstable phenotype during the LTC (early [EP] vs. late [LP] culture passages). Our findings indicated that LTC altered the behavior of CHO cells in culture, in terms of growth, overall gene expression, and cell metabolism. Regardless whether cells were categorized as stable or unstable in terms of r-protein production, CHO cells at LP presented an earlier decline in cell viability and loss of any observable stationary phase. These changes were parallelled by the upregulation of genes involved in cell proliferation and survival pathways (i.e., MAPK/ERK, PI3K-Akt). Stable and unstable CHO cell lines both showed increased consumption of glucose and amino acids at LP, with a parallel accumulation of greater amounts of lactate and TCA cycle intermediates. In terms of production stability, we found that decreased r-protein production in the unstable cell line directly correlated to the loss in r-gene copy number and r-mRNA expression. Our data revealed that LTC produced ubiquitious effects on CHO cell phenotypes, changes that were rooted in alterations in cell transcriptome and metabolome. Overall, we found that CHO cells adapted their cellular function to proliferation and survival during the LTC, some of these changes may well have limited effects on overall yield or specific productivity of the desired r-product, but they may be critical toward the capacity of cells to handle r-proteins with specific molecular features.