The effect of antifoams upon recombinant protein production in yeast

  • Sarah Routledge

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Foaming during fermentation reduces the efficiency of the process leading to increased costs and reduced productivity. Foaming can be overcome by the use of chemical antifoaming agents, however their influence upon the growth of organisms and protein yield is poorly understood. The objective of this work was to evaluate the effects of different antifoams on recombinant protein production. Antifoam A, Antifoam C, J673A, P2000 and SB2121 were tested at different concentrations for their effect on the growth characteristics of Pichia pastoris producing GFP, EPO and A2aR and the yield of protein in shake flasks over 48 h. All antifoams tested increased the total GFP in the shake flasks compared to controls, at higher concentrations than would normally be used for defoaming purposes. The highest yield was achieved by adding 1 % P2000 which nearly doubled the total yield followed by 1 % SB2121, 1 % J673A, 0.6 % Antifoam A and lastly 0.8 % Antifoam C. The antifoams had a detrimental effect upon the production of EPO and A2aR in shake flasks, suggesting that their effects may be protein specific. The mechanisms of action of the antifoams was investigated and suggested that although the volumetric mass oxygen transfer coefficient (kLa) was influenced by the agents, their effect upon the concentration of dissolved oxygen did not contribute to the changes in growth or recombinant protein yield. Findings in small scale also suggested that antifoams of different compositions such as silicone polymers and alcoxylated fatty acid esters may influence growth characteristics of host organisms and the ability of the cells to secrete recombinant protein, indirectly affecting the protein yield. Upon scale-up, the concentration effects of the antifoams upon GFP yield in bioreactors was reversed, with lower concentrations producing a higher yield. These data suggest that antifoam can affect cells in a multifactorial manner and highlights the importance of screening for optimum antifoam types and concentrations for each bioprocesses.
Date of Award1 Jun 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRoslyn Bill (Supervisor)


  • antifoams
  • recombinant protein
  • yeast

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