Metabolic pathways recruited in the production of a recombinant enveloped virus: Mining targets for process and cell engineering

A. F. Rodrigues, A. S. Formas-Oliveira, V. S. Bandeira, P. M. Alves, W. S. Hu, A. S. Coroadinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Biopharmaceuticals derived from enveloped virus comprise an expanding market of vaccines, oncolytic vectors and gene therapy products. Thus, increased attention is given to the development of robust high-titer cell hosts for their manufacture. However, the knowledge on the physiological constraints modulating virus production is still scarce and the use of integrated strategies to improve hosts productivity and upstream bioprocess an under-explored territory.In this work, we conducted a functional genomics study, including the transcriptional profiling and central carbon metabolism analysis, following the metabolic changes in the transition 'parental-to-producer' of two human cell lines producing recombinant retrovirus. Results were gathered into three comprehensive metabolic maps, providing a broad and integrated overview of gene expression changes for both cell lines. Eight pathways were identified to be recruited in the virus production state: amino acid catabolism, carbohydrate catabolism and integration of the energy metabolism, nucleotide metabolism, glutathione metabolism, pentose phosphate pathway, polyamines biosynthesis and lipid metabolism. Their ability to modulate viral titers was experimentally challenged, leading to improved specific productivities of recombinant retrovirus up to 6-fold. Within recruited pathways in the virus production state, we sought for metabolic engineering gene targets in the low producing phenotypes. A mining strategy was used alternative to the traditional approach 'high vs. low producer' clonal comparison. Instead, 'high vs. low producer' from different genetic backgrounds (i.e. cell origins) were compared. Several genes were identified as limiting in the low-production phenotype, including two enzymes from cholesterol biosynthesis, two enzymes from glutathione biosynthesis and the regulatory machinery of polyamines biosynthesis. This is thus a frontier work, bridging fundamentals to technological research and contributing to enlarge our understanding of enveloped virus production dynamics in mammalian cell hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-145
Number of pages15
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge Dr. Ana Luisa Simplício (IBET) for the access to the HPLC and Dr. Nuno Carinhas for tutoring and support in the amino acid quantification method. The authors acknowledge Fundação Para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal , for financial support PTDC/EBB-BIO/100491/2008 and PTDC/EBB-BIO/118621/2010 . A.F. Rodrigues acknowledges FCT for the PhD grant ( SFRH/BD/48393/2008 ).


  • Cell engineering
  • Mammalian cell culture
  • Media design
  • Metabolomics
  • Recombinant enveloped virus
  • Transcriptomics


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