Decoupling growth and protein production in CHO cells: A targeted approach

James S. Donaldson, Matthew P. Dale, Susan J. Rosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fed-batch cultures of Chinese Hamster Ovary cells have been used to produce high quantities of biotherapeutics, particularly monoclonal antibodies. However, a growing number of next-generation biotherapeutics, such as bi-specific antibodies and fusion proteins, are difficult to express using standard fed-batch processes. Decoupling cell growth and biotherapeutic production is becoming an increasingly desired strategy for the biomanufacturing industry, especially for difficult-to-express products. Cells are grown to a high cell density in the absence of recombinant protein production (the growth phase), then expression of the recombinant protein is induced and cell proliferation halted (the production phase), usually by combining an inducible gene expression system with a proliferation control strategy. Separating the growth and production phases allows cell resources to be more efficiently directed toward either growth or production, improving growth characteristics and enhancing the production of difficult to express proteins. However, current mammalian cell proliferation control methods rely on temperature shifts and chemical agents, which interact with many non-proliferation pathways, leading to variable impacts on product quality and culture viability. Synthetic biology offers an alternative approach by strategically targeting proliferation pathways to arrest cell growth but have largely remained unused in industrial bioproduction. Due to recent developments in microbial decoupling systems and advances in available mammalian cell engineering tools, we propose that the synthetic biology approach to decoupling growth and production needs revisiting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number658325
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021


  • biomanufacturing
  • synthetic biology
  • decoupling production from growth
  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • CHO cell culture


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