Evidence for co-translational misincorporation of non-canonical amino acid hydroxyproline in recombinant antibodies produced in Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell lines
With the advent of highly sensitive technologies such as tandem mass spectrometry and next-generation sequencing, recombinant antibodies are now routinely analyzed for the presence of low-level sequence variants including amino acid misincorporations. During mAb cell culture process development, we found that proline was replaced with the non-canonical amino acid, hydroxyproline, in the protein sequence. We investigated the relationship between proline content in the cell culture media and
... ture media and proline sequence variants and found that the proline concentration was inversely correlated with the amount of sequence variants detected in the protein sequence. Hydroxyproline incorporation has been previously reported in recombinant proteins produced in mammalian expression systems as a post-translational modification. Given the dependency on proline levels, the mechanism was then investigated. To address the possibility of co-translational misincorporation of hydroxyproline, we used tandem mass spectrometry to measure incorporation of stable-isotope labelled hydroxyproline added to the feed of a production bioreactor. We discovered co-translational misincorporation of labelled hydroxyproline in the recombinant antibody. These findings are significant, since they underscore the need to track non-canonical amino acid incorporation as a co-translational event in CHO cells. Understanding the mechanism of hydroxyproline incorporation is crucial in developing an appropriate control strategy during biologics production.