Sialylation regulates the in vivo half-life of recombinant therapeutic glycoproteins, affecting their therapeutic efficacy. Levels of the precursor molecule cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid (CMP-Neu5Ac) are considered a limiting factor in the sialylation of glycoproteins. Here, we show that by reducing the amount of intracellular CMP-Neu5Ac consumed for glycosphingolipid (GSL) biosynthesis, we can increase the sialylation of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) produced in CHO cells. Initially, we found that treating CHO cells with a potent inhibitor of GSL biosynthesis increases the sialylation of the rhEPO they produce. Then, we established a stable CHO cell line that produces rhEPO in the context of repression of the key GSL biosynthetic enzyme UDP-glucose ceramide glucosyltransferase (UGCG). These UGCG-depleted cells show reduced levels of gangliosides and significantly elevated levels of rhEPO sialylation. Upon further analysis of the resulting N-glycosylation pattern, we discovered that the enhanced rhEPO sialylation could be attributed to a decrease in neutral and mono-sialylated N-glycans and an increase in di-sialylated N-glycans. Our results suggest that the therapeutic efficacy of rhEPO produced in CHO cells can be improved by shunting intracellular CMP-Neu5Ac away from GSL biosynthesis and toward glycoprotein sialylation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes