Pichia pastoris versus Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a case study on the recombinant production of human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor

Anh-Minh Tran, Thanh-Thao Nguyen, Cong-Thuan Nguyen, Xuan-Mai Huynh-Thi, Cao-Tri Nguyen, Minh-Thuong Trinh, Linh-Thuoc Tran, Stephanie P. Cartwright, Roslyn M. Bill, Hieu Tran-Van*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGM-CSF) is a glycoprotein that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of neutropenia and leukemia in combination with chemotherapies. Recombinant hGM-CSF is produced industrially using the baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, by large-scale fermentation. The methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris, has emerged as an alternative host cell system due to its shorter and less immunogenic glycosylation pattern together with higher cell density growth and higher secreted protein yield than S. cerevisiae. In this study, we compared the pipeline from gene to recombinant protein in these two yeasts.

RESULTS: Codon optimization in silico for both yeast species showed no difference in frequent codon usage. However, rhGM-CSF expressed from S. cerevisiae BY4742 showed a significant discrepancy in molecular weight from those of P. pastoris X33. Analysis showed purified rhGM-CSF species with molecular weights ranging from 30 to more than 60 kDa. Fed-batch fermentation over 72 h showed that rhGM-CSF was more highly secreted from P. pastoris than S. cerevisiae (285 and 64 mg total secreted protein/L, respectively). Ion exchange chromatography gave higher purity and recovery than hydrophobic interaction chromatography. Purified rhGM-CSF from P. pastoris was 327 times more potent than rhGM-CSF from S. cerevisiae in terms of proliferative stimulating capacity on the hGM-CSF-dependent cell line, TF-1.

CONCLUSION: Our data support a view that the methylotrophic yeast P. pastoris is an effective recombinant host for heterologous rhGM-CSF production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • bioactivity
  • fermentation
  • P. pastoris
  • rhGM-CSF
  • S. cerevisiae
  • TF-1 cell


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