Improved production of industrially relevant recombinant proteins: application of multi-factorial design of experiments and scalable process modelling

  • W.J. Holmes

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The work described in this thesis focuses on the use of a design-of-experiments approach in a multi-well mini-bioreactor to enable the rapid establishments of high yielding production phase conditions in yeast, which is an increasingly popular host system in both academic and industrial laboratories. Using green fluorescent protein secreted from the yeast, Pichia pastoris, a scalable predictive model of protein yield per cell was derived from 13 sets of conditions each with three factors (temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen) at 3 levels and was directly transferable to a 7 L bioreactor. This was in clear contrast to the situation in shake flasks, where the process parameters cannot be tightly controlled. By further optimisating both the accumulation of cell density in batch and improving the fed-batch induction regime, additional yield improvement was found to be additive to the per cell yield of the model. A separate study also demonstrated that improving biomass improved product yield in a second yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Investigations of cell wall hydrophobicity in high cell density P. pastoris cultures indicated that cell wall hydrophobin (protein) compositional changes with growth phase becoming more hydrophobic in log growth than in lag or stationary phases. This is possibly due to an increased occurrence of proteins associated with cell division. Finally, the modelling approach was validated in mammalian cells, showing its flexibility and robustness. In summary, the strategy presented in this thesis has the benefit of reducing process development time in recombinant protein production, directly from bench to bioreactor.
Date of AwardFeb 2009
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRoslyn Bill (Supervisor)


  • recombinant protein
  • predictive model
  • process optimisation
  • Pichia pastoris
  • hybridoma

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