Published On: Wed, Sep 14th, 2022

Plant-Derived Recombinant Proteins

Recombinant protein is a modified protein that is encoded into recombinant DNA. These proteins have important applications in a wide range of industries, including chemical manufacturing, food, and cosmetics. In the medical and drug-development community, recombinant proteins have also proven to create powerful antibody medicines for the treatment of serious diseases.

The first lab-manufactured recombinant proteins were produced using microbes and animal tissues. In fact, the first recombinant protein to be used for treatment was recombinant human insulin in the early 1980s. Recombinant protein production has seen steady growth since, and today, there are over 100 different recombinant proteins approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

photo/ annca

Recently, plants have emerged as a promising new alternative for industrial-scale recombinant protein production. An industry-wide paradigm shift from animal and microbe tissue to plant-based proteins could improve sustainability and accessibility for medicines and other products that rely on these recombinant proteins.

Plant-Based Recombinant Proteins: The Future of Industrial Scale Recombinant Protein Production?

Bioreactor based systems that produce recombinant proteins from microbes or animal tissue have been the industry standard since recombinant protein production began at scale in the 1980s.

However, the production of recombinant proteins can also be demonstrated in whole plants. By fostering specific cultivation conditions, researchers and developers have created more viable and robust plant-based production platforms based on plant traits like “hairy” roots. 

Plant-based cell suspension cultures, which are much more like the conventional cell-based bioreactor systems that scientists are familiar with have also emerged. These alternatives provide a more economically and logistically viable plant-based paradigm.

Recently, glycoengineering has even gone so far as to develop “humanized” plant lines. These glycoengineered systems can produce glycoproteins containing specific human glycans with remarkable quality. Glycans are specialized sugars and carbohydrates that can play an important role in antibody binding.

There is great variety across recombinant proteins and recombinant protein production systems. In turn, there is variety in the equipment and processes used to create recombinant proteins. Today, plant-based recombinant protein development systems are becoming ever more attractive, accessible, and viable for production on an industrial scale.


Author: Alicia Nicholson


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