Recovery of Recombinant Antibody is Affected by Endogenous Protein Interaction in Maize

December 15, 2014

Seeds provide a useful and versatile platform for the production of recombinant proteins and their numerous advantages have been often discussed [1]. Among seeds, cereal crops offer additional advantages such as high yield and well-stablished agricultural infrastructure which allows easy up and down scaling in response to demand. Moreover, cereal endosperm is naturally adapted for protein accumulation, has a relatively simple seed proteome and low levels of phenolics, alkaloids and oxalic acid, which are known to interfere with protein extraction and downstream processing [2]. Maize has the highest annual grain yield among cereal crops and its kernel size is larger than other cereals since endosperm makes up to 82 % of the seed [3]. Maize transformation is well stablished and several well characterized endosperm-especific and seed-restricted promoter systems are available for the control of transgene expression [1, 4]. It is remarkable that the first commercial plant-derived recombinant proteins (avidin and β-glucuronidase) were produced in maize by Prodigene Inc. (College Station, TX, USA) [5, 6] and cellobiohydrolase, an enzyme used to produce biofuels from plant biomass, has been expressed with a yield of up to 30 % of total soluble protein (TSP) in maize seeds [7].

Given the advantages discussed above, maize is favored among the cereals as a platform for the large-scale production of antibodies such as the HIV neutralizing antibody 2G12 that has been successfully produced in maize seeds, reaching yields of 75 µg/g [2, 8]. 2G12 antibody recognizes oligomanose-type glycans on the gp120 envelope protein of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) and is considered a promising microbiocide [9].

Maize seeds accumulate proteins both in protein storage vacuoles and in protein bodies that directly derive from the endoplasmic reticulum. Maize prolamins (α-, γ- and δ-zeins) assemble in protein bodies which comprise a central core of α- and δ-zeins and a peripherical layer of γ-zeins [10]. The zeins interact non-covalently [11] but are also cross-linked by intermolecular disulfide bridges, particularly the γ-zeins which are cysteine rich and form covalently-linked multimeric aggregates that initiate the formation of protein bodies. This ability of formation of disulfide bridges, together with the abundance of zeins in maize endosperm (up to 50 % of total protein in mature seeds [12]) makes it likely that the presence of recombinant proteins such as antibodies, that also form intermolecular disulfide bridges would induce the formation of oligomers. Antibody chain covalently linked to γ-zein would not be reflected in the yield of 2G12 antibody previously reported following saline extraction [2]. We suggest that the potential of maize as an expression platform for soluble recombinant antibody could be boosted in maize varieties with lower levels of endogenous γ-zein.

Material and methods

Transgenic maize seeds expressing 2G12 carrying a signal peptide that directs the antibody chains into the endomembrane system but no further targeting signal were fixed in 4 % paraformaldehyde and 0,5 % glutaraldehyde. Small pieces of developing transgenic seeds (~1 mm3) were further processed as described before [13]. After dehydration through ethanol series, samples were infiltrated and embedded in LRWhite resin and the blocks were allowed to polymerise at 60 °C for 2 days. Semithin sections (1 µm) were obtained with a Leica Ultracut UCT and stained with toluidine blue or used for immunofluorescence studies. Ultrathin sections (80 nm) were also obtained and stained with uranyl acetate 1 % and lead citrate 3 % in a Leica EM AC20 after immunogold localization of recombinant 2G12 antibody. Light and immunofluorescence pictures were taken with a Leica DM5500. Ultrathin sections were observed with a FEI Tecnai G2 electron microscope.

Results and discussion

The deposition of the antibody 2G12 in maize endosperm was studied. Maize endosperm cells are characterized by the presence of abundant spheroidal starch grains, small spherical zein bodies spread evenly within the cytoplasma and several protein storage vacuoles (PSV) (Figure 1A). Antibody chains were localized within such PSVs (Figure 1B), as expected for a protein entering the endomembrane system in cereal seeds with no further targeting information [14, 15]. Unexpectedly, a strong signal could be also detected within the zein bodies, contrary to what has been reported for other secretory recombinant proteins expressed in maize [15].

Fig. 1: Deposition of 2G12 antibody in maize endosperm cells. A) Light microscopy, toluidine blue. See the protein storage compartments in maize endosperm cells, protein storage vacuoles (arrows) and zein bodies (arrowheads). B) Fluorescence microscopy. Strong labelling in the protein storage vacuoles (arrow) and within the zein bodies (arrowheads). Nucleus (n), starch (s). Bars 20 µm.

The electron microscope confirmed this deposition and, moreover, showed that some zein bodies had lost their typical spherical appearance and the normal distribution of zeins with the protein body (Figure 2). Lending and Larkins [10] described zein bodies as spherical structures with a low electrondense core of α- and δ-zeins and a thin, high electrondense layer of γ-zeins in the periphery. This structure is conserved and it has been shown that the presence and balanced interactions of all zein subfamilies is necessary to stabilize the zein bodies and form typical spherical structures [16, 17, 18]. In our samples, a significant fraction of the antibody could only be extracted under reducing conditions, pointing at the formation of disulphide bridges between antibody chains and γ-zeins [19]. This interaction is also supported by the fact that the prevalence of the amorphous zein bodies was dependent of the amount of 2G12 expressed, indicating that the presence of zein-antibody oligomers was the responsible of the malformations observed in the zein bodies [19]. While in some cases interaction of recombinant pharmaceuticals with endogenous proteins are desired aiming at oral delivery, in others, like the present case, they affect the yield of soluble protein. We suggest that minimizing interaction with endogenous storage proteins should be a valid strategy to enhance the production of soluble recombinant antibodies in maize.

Fig. 2: Zein bodies in WT seeds (A) and in transgenic seeds (B). Electronmicroscopy, general non-specific staining. WT zein bodies (zb) are spherical and have a low electrondense central core, surrounded by a thin layer of high electrondensity. Some  zein bodies in the transgenic seeds are amorphous and show a discontinuous electrondense layer on the periphery (zb*). Bars 0,5 µm.

References

  1. Stoger E, Ma JK, Fischer R, and Christou P: Sowing the seeds of success: pharmaceutical proteins from plants. Current opinion in biotechnology 16: 167–73 (2005).
  2. Ramessar K, Rademacher T, Sack M, Stadlmann J, Platis D, Stiegler G, Labrou N, Altmann F, Ma J, Stoger E, Capell T, and Christou P: Cost-effective production of a vaginal protein microbicide to prevent HIV transmission. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 3727–32 (2008).
  3. Watson SA: Structure and composition. In: Watson, SA, and Ramstad PT (eds.): Corn: chemistry and technology  53–82 (1987). St. Paul, MN: American Association of Cereal Chemists.
  4. Kawakatsu T, and Takaiwa F: Cereal seed storage protein synthesis: fundamental processes for recombinant protein production in cereal grains. Plant biotechnology journal 8: 939–53 (2010).
  5. Hood EE, Witcher DR, Maddock S, Meyer T, Baszczynski C, Bailey M, Flynn P, Register J, Marshall L, Bond D, Kulisek E, Kusnadi A, Evangelista R, Nikolov Z, Wooge C, Mehigh RJ, Hernan R, Kappel WK, Ritland D, Li CP, and Howard JA: Commercial production of avidin from transgenic maize: characterization of transformant, production, processing, extraction and purification. Mol. Breeding 3: 291–306 (1997).
  6. Witcher DR, Hood EE, Peterson D, Bailey M, Bond D, Kusnadi A, Evangelista R, Nikolov Z, Wooge C, Mehigh R, Kappe W, Register J, and Howard JA: Commercial production of beta-glucuronidase (GUS): a model system for the production of proteins in plants. Mol. Breeding 4: 301–12 (1998).
  7. Devaiah SP, Requesens DV, Chang YK, Hood KR, Flory A, Howard JA, and Hood EE: Heterologous expression of cellobiohydrolase II (Cel6A) in maize endosperm. Transgenic research (2012).
  8. Rademacher T, Sack M, Arcalis E, Stadlmann J, Balzer S, Altmann F, Quendler H, Stiegler G, Kunert R, Fischer R, and Stoger E: Recombinant antibody 2G12 produced in maize endosperm efficiently neutralizes HIV-1 and contains predominantly single-GlcNAc N-glycans. Plant Biotechnol. J6: 189–201 (2008).
  9. Armitage AE, McMichael AJ, and Drakesmith H: Reflecting on a quarter century of HIV research. Nature immunology 9: 823–26 (2008).
  10. Lending CR, and Larkins BA: Changes in the Zein Composition of Protein Bodies during Maize Endosperm Development. Plant Cell 1: 1011–23 (1989).
  11. Kim CS, Woo YM, Clore AM, Burnett RJ, Carneiro NP, and Larkins BA: Zein protein interactions, rather than the asymmetric distribution of zein mRNAs on endoplasmic reticulum membranes, influence protein body formation in maize endosperm. Plant Cell 14: 655–72 (2002).
  12. Lee KH, Jones RA, Dalby A, and Tsai CY: Genetic regulation of storage protein content in maize endosperm. Biochemical genetics 14: 641–50 (1976).
  13. Arcalis E, Marcel S, Altmann F, Kolarich D, Drakakaki G, Fischer R, Christou P, and Stoger E: Unexpected deposition patterns of recombinant proteins in post-endoplasmic reticulum compartments of wheat endosperm. Plant Physiology 136: 3457–66 (2004a).
  14. Arcalis E, Marcel S, Altmann F, Kolarich D, Drakakaki G, Fischer R, Christou P, and Stoger E: Unexpected deposition patterns of recombinant proteins in post-endoplasmic reticulum compartments of wheat endosperm. Plant Physiol 136: 3457–66 (2004b).
  15. Arcalis E, Stadlmann J, Marcel S, Drakakaki G, Winter V, Rodriguez J, Fischer R, Altmann F, and Stoger E: The changing fate of a secretory glycoprotein in developing maize endosperm. Plant Physiol. 153: 693–702 (2010).
  16. Bagga S, Adams H, Kemp JD, and Sengupta-Gopalan C: Accumulation of 15-Kilodalton Zein in Novel Protein Bodies in Transgenic Tobacco. Plant Physiol. 107: 13–23 (1995).
  17. Coleman CE, Yoho PR, Escobar S, and Ogawa M: The accumulation of alpha-zein in transgenic tobacco endosperm is stabilized by co-expression of beta-zein. Plant Cell Physiol. 45: 864–71 (2004).
  18. Geli MI, Torrent M, and Ludevid D: Two Structural Domains Mediate Two Sequential Events in [gamma]-Zein Targeting: Protein Endoplasmic Reticulum Retention and Protein Body Formation. Plant Cell 6: 1911–22 (1994).
  19. Peters J, Sabalza M, Ramessar K, Christou P, Capell T, Stöger E, and Arcalís E: Efficient recovery of recombinant proteins from cereal endosperm is affected by interaction with endogenous storage proteins. Biotechnol J. 8 (10): 1203–12 (2013).

Comments

Help us to improve the Leica Science Lab and participate in our survey! Start Survey

Arrow Down

Arrow Up