Engineering cell metabolism for high-density cell culture via manipulation of sugar transport

Katie F. Wlaschin, Wei Shou Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Transporters mediate the influx of nutrients and excretion of metabolites in mammalian cells, playing a key role in the regulation of metabolism. They are natural targets for cell engineering to alter metabolic characteristics. The GLUT5 fructose transporter was stably expressed in a Chinese hamster ovary cell line, allowing clones to utilize fructose in place of glucose in culture medium. Compared to the ubiquitously expressed GLUT1 glucose transporter, the GLUT5 fructose transporter has a high Km value for its substrate. Fructose uptake by the GLUT5 transporter should supply sugar to cells at a more moderate rate, even in high fructose concentrations, avoiding the overflow of excess carbon to lactate. When cultured in fructose, selected GLUT5 expressing clones exhibited drastically reduced sugar consumption and lactate production rates. When those same clones were cultured in glucose, high sugar consumption and lactate production rates were observed. GLUT5 transcript expression levels and specific lactate production rates varied among the clones. Clones having a low expression level of the GLUT5 transporter were able to import fructose at more moderate rates in higher sugar concentrations. The reduced lactate production for these clones allowed a significant increase in the final cell concentration in fructose fed-batch processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 31 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. R. Scott McIvor for insightful discussions, Dr. Jongchan Lee, Dr. Eyal Epstein and Bhanu Mulukutula for their assistance in clone characterization, and Molly Smith, Cheston Hsiao and Lewis Marshall for their technical assistance. KFW was a recipient of an NSF Graduate Fellowship and the NIH Biotechnology Traineeship (GM08347).


  • Fed-batch culture
  • Fructose
  • GLUT5
  • Mammalian cell culture
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Sugar transport


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