Metabolic shifts by nutrient manipulation in continuous cultures of BHK cells

Helder J. Cruz, José L. Moreira, Manuel J.T. Carrondo

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87 Citations (Scopus)


The present work aims at characterizing the regulatory mechanisms of metabolism and product formation of BHK cells producing a recombinant antibody/cytokine fusion protein. This work was carried out through the achievement of several steady-states in chemostat cultures, corresponding to different glucose and glutamine levels in the feed culture medium. Results obtained indicate that both glucose and glutamine consumptions show a Michaelis-Menten dependence on residual glucose and glutamine concentrations, respectively. Similar dependence was also observed for lactate and ammonia productions, kf(Glc)(Glc) and K(Gln)(Gln) were estimated to be 0.4 and 0.15 mM, respectively, while q(max)(Glc) and q (max)(Gln) were estimated to be 1.8 and 0.55 nmol 10-6 cells min-1, respectively. At very low glucose concentrations, the glucose-to-lactate yield decreased markedly showing a metabolic shift towards lower lactate production; also, the glucose-to-cells yield was increased. At very low-glutamine concentrations, the glutamine-to- ammonia and glutamine-to-cells yields increased, showing a more efficient glutamine metabolism. Overall, amino acid consumption was increased under low glucose or glutamine concentrations. Metabolic-flux analysis confirmed the metabolic shifts by showing increases in the fluxes of the more energetically efficient pathways, at low-nutrient concentrations. No effect of glucose or glutamine concentrations on the cell-specific productivity was observed, even under metabolically shifted metabolism; therefore, it is possible to confine the cells to a more efficient metabolic state maintaining the productivity of the recombinant product of interest, and consequently, increasing final product titers by increasing cell concentration and culture length. This work is intended to be a model approach to characterize cell metabolism in an integrated way; it is highly valuable for the establishment of operating strategies in mammalian cell fermentations in which cell metabolism is to be confined to a desired state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • BHK cells
  • Continuous cultures
  • Glucose- and glutamine-uptake rates
  • Lactate- and ammonia-production rates
  • Metabolic optimization
  • Metabolic shifts


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