Loh, W. P., Loo, B., Zhou, L., Zhang, P., Lee, D.-Y., Yang, Y. and Lam, K. P. (2014), Overexpression of microRNAs enhances recombinant protein production in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Biotechnology Journal, 9: 1140–1151. doi: 10.1002/biot.201400050
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNAs that can negatively regulate expression of multiple genes at post-transcriptional levels. Using miRNAs to target multiple genes and pathways is a promising cell-engineering strategy to increase recombinant protein production in mammalian cells. Here, we identified miRs-17, -19b, -20a, and -92a to be differentially expressed between high- and low- monoclonal antibody-producing Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell clones using next-generation sequencing and quantitative real-time PCR. These miRNAs were stably overexpressed individually and in combination in a high-producing clone to assess their effects on CHO cell growth, recombinant protein productivity and product quality. Stably transfected pools demonstrated 24-34% increases in specific productivity (qP) and 21-31% increases in titer relative to the parental clone, without significant alterations in proliferation rates. The highest protein-producing clones isolated from these pools exhibited 130-140% increases in qP and titer compared to the parental clone, without major changes in product aggregation and N-glycosylation profile. From our clonal data, correlations between enhanced qP/titer and increased levels of miRs-17, -19b, and -92a were observed. Our results demonstrate the potential of miRs-17, -19b, and -92a as cell-engineering targets to increase recombinant protein production in mammalian cells.