skip to main content

Title: Recombinant Heparin: An Old Drug for the Modern World
Background: Although most biologics are produced using recombinant technologies, heparin persists as a product purified from animal tissues. A cell based system for production of heparin would eliminate risk of supply shortage and contamination. Additionally, genetic engineering could yield heparin with improved qualities such as reduced risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Aims: This work is focused on engineering mammalian cell lines and bioprocess methods to produce recombinant heparin. Methods: The heparan sulfate biosynthetic pathway of mastocytoma cells was genetically engineered to alter the expression of heparan sulfate sulfotransferases. The resulting cell lines were screened for production of anti-FXa activity. Heparan sulfate production from a candidate cell line was tested in chemically defined medium. The recombinant product was characterized structurally and in clotting, anti-protease and heparin induced thrombocytopenia assays. Results: Engineered cells produced heparan sulfate in chemically defined medium with anti-Xa and anti-IIa activity exceeding the requirement for unfractionated heparin despite having lower sulfate content. Chain length was longer than unfractionated heparin. Additionally, binding to platelet factor 4 was reduced compared to unfractionated heparin, suggesting less risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Conclusion: These results demonstrate the feasibility of producing a substitute for unfractionated heparin from recombinant cell culture. Additionally, recombinant technology may allow production of heparin more » substitutes with improved properties such as reduced side effects. « less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Research and practice in thrombosis and haemostasis
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Heparin is an essential anticoagulant used for treating and preventing thrombosis. However, the complexity of heparin has hindered the development of a recombinant source, making its supply dependent on a vulnerable animal population. In nature, heparin is produced exclusively in mast cells, which are not suitable for commercial production, but mastocytoma cells are readily grown in culture and make heparan sulfate, a closely related glycosaminoglycan that lacks anticoagulant activity. Using gene expression profiling of mast cells as a guide, a multiplex genome engineering strategy was devised to produce heparan sulfate with high anticoagulant potency and to eliminate contaminating chondroitin sulfate from mastocytoma cells. The heparan sulfate purified from engineered cells grown in chemically defined medium has anticoagulant potency that exceeds porcinederived heparin and confers anticoagulant activity to the blood of healthy mice. This work demonstrates the feasibility of producing recombinant heparin from mammalian cell culture as an alternative to animal sources.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major human health concern. The pathogen responsible for COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), invades its host through the interaction of its spike (S) protein with a host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). In addition to ACE2, heparan sulfate (HS) on the surface of host cells also plays a significant role as a co-receptor. Our previous studies demonstrated that sulfated glycans, such as heparin and fucoidans, show anti-COVID-19 activities. In the current study, rhamnan sulfate (RS), a polysaccharide with a rhamnose backbone from a green seaweed, Monostroma nitidum, was evaluated for binding to the S-protein from SARS-CoV-2 and inhibition of viral infectivity in vitro. The structural characteristics of RS were investigated by determining its monosaccharide composition and performing two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance. RS inhibition of the interaction of heparin, a highly sulfated HS, with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (from wild type and different mutant variants) was studied using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). In competitive binding studies, the IC50 of RS against the S-protein receptor binding domain (RBD) binding to immobilized heparin was 1.6 ng/mL, which is much lower than the IC50 for heparin (~750 ng/mL). RS showed stronger inhibition than heparin onmore »the S-protein RBD or pseudoviral particles binding to immobilized heparin. Finally, in an in vitro cell-based assay, RS showed strong antiviral activities against wild type SARS-CoV-2 and the delta variant.« less
  3. Abstract Background

    Microbial co-cultures and consortia are of interest in cell-based molecular production and even as “smart” therapeutics in that one can take advantage of division of labor and specialization to expand both the range of available functions and mechanisms for control. The development of tools that enable coordination and modulation of consortia will be crucial for future application of multi-population cultures. In particular, these systems would benefit from an expanded toolset that enables orthogonal inter-strain communication.


    We created a co-culture for the synthesis of a redox-active phenazine signaling molecule, pyocyanin (PYO), by dividing its synthesis into the generation of its intermediate, phenazine carboxylic acid (PCA) from the first strain, followed by consumption of PCA and generation of PYO in a second strain. Interestingly, both PCA and PYO can be used to actuate gene expression in cells engineered with thesoxRSoxidative stress regulon, although importantly this signaling activity was found to depend on growth media. That is, like other signaling motifs in bacterial systems, the signaling activity is context dependent. We then used this co-culture’s phenazine signals in a tri-culture to modulate gene expression and production of three model products: quorum sensing molecule autoinducer-1 and two fluorescent marker proteins, eGFP and DsRed.more »We also showed how these redox-based signals could be intermingled with other quorum-sensing (QS) signals which are more commonly used in synthetic biology, to control complex behaviors. To provide control over product synthesis in the tri-cultures, we also showed how a QS-induced growth control module could guide metabolic flux in one population and at the same time guide overall tri-culture function. Specifically, we showed that phenazine signal recognition, enabled through the oxidative stress response regulonsoxRS,was dependent on media composition such that signal propagation within our parsed synthetic system could guide different desired outcomes based on the prevailing environment. In doing so, we expanded the range of signaling molecules available for coordination and the modes by which they can be utilized to influence overall function of a multi-population culture.


    Our results show that redox-based signaling can be intermingled with other quorum sensing signaling in ways that enable user-defined control of microbial consortia yielding various outcomes defined by culture medium. Further, we demonstrated the utility of our previously designed growth control module in influencing signal propagation and metabolic activity is unimpeded by orthogonal redox-based signaling. By exploring novel multi-modal strategies for guiding communication and consortia outcome, the concepts introduced here may prove to be useful for coordination of multiple populations within complex microbial systems.

    « less
  4. With the increased prevalence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, such as Delta and Omicron, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an ongoing human health disaster, killing millions worldwide. SARS-CoV-2 invades its host through the interaction of its spike (S) protein with a host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). In addition, heparan sulfate (HS) on the surface of host cells plays an important role as a co-receptor for this viral pathogen–host cell interaction. Our previous studies demonstrated that many sulfated glycans, such as heparin, fucoidans, and rhamnan sulfate have anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities. In the current study, a small library of sulfated glycans and highly negatively charged compounds, including pentosan polysulfate (PPS), mucopolysaccharide polysulfate (MPS), sulfated lactobionic acid, sulodexide, and defibrotide, was assembled and evaluated for binding to the S-proteins and inhibition of viral infectivity in vitro. These compounds inhibited the interaction of the S-protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) (wild type and different variants) with immobilized heparin, a highly sulfated HS, as determined using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). PPS and MPS showed the strongest inhibition of interaction of heparin and S-protein RBD. The competitive binding studies showed that the IC50 of PPS and MPS against the S-protein RBD binding to immobilized heparin wasmore »~35 nM and ~9 nM, respectively, much lower than the IC50 for soluble heparin (IC50 = 56 nM). Both PPS and MPS showed stronger inhibition than heparin on the S-protein RBD or spike pseudotyped lentiviral particles binding to immobilized heparin. Finally, in an in vitro cell-based assay, PPS and MPS exhibited strong antiviral activities against pseudotyped viral particles of SARS-CoV-2 containing wild-type or Delta S-proteins.« less
  5. Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSV) is a pathogenic fish rhabdovirus found in discrete locales throughout the northern hemisphere. VHSV infection of fish cells leads to upregulation of the host's virus detection response, but the virus quickly suppresses interferon (IFN) production and antiviral genes expression. By systematically screening each of the six VHSV structural and nonstructural genes, we have identified matrix protein (M) as its most potent anti-host protein. VHSV-IVb M alone suppressed mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS) and type I IFN-induced gene expression in a dose-dependent manner. M also suppressed the constitutively active SV40 promoter and globally decreased cellular RNA levels. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies illustrated that M inhibited RNA polymerase II (RNAP II) recruitment to gene promoters, and decreased RNAP II CTD Ser2 phosphorylation during VHSV infection. However, transcription directed by RNAP I-III was suppressed by M. To identify regions of functional importance, M proteins from a variety of VHSV strains were tested in cell-based transcriptional inhibition assays. M protein of a particular VHSV-Ia strain, F1, was significantly less potent than -IVb M at inhibiting SV40/luc expression, yet differed by just four amino acids. Mutation of D62 to alanine alone, or in combination with an E181 to alanine mutationmore »(D62A/E181A), dramatically reduced the ability of -IVb M to suppress host transcription. Introducing either M D62A or D62A/E181A mutations into VHSV-IVb via reverse genetics resulted in viruses that replicated efficiently but exhibited less cytotoxicity and reduced anti-transcriptional activities, implicating M as a primary regulator of cytopathicity and host transcriptional suppression. Importance: Viruses must suppress host antiviral responses to replicate and spread between hosts. In these studies, we identified the matrix protein of the deadly fish Novirhabdovirus, VHSV, as a critical mediator of host suppression during infection. Our studies indicated that M alone could block cellular gene expression at very low expression levels. We identified several subtle mutations in M that were less potent at suppressing host transcription. When these mutations were engineered back into recombinant viruses, the resulting viruses replicated well but elicited less toxicity in infected cells and activated host innate immune responses more robustly. These data demonstrated that VHSV M plays an important role in mediating both virus-induced cell toxicity and viral replication. Our data suggest that its roles in these two processes can be separated to design effective attenuated viruses for vaccine candidates.« less