Biotherapeutics currently constitute a $70 billion market, but their clinical efficacy is often compromised by limitations arising from proteolytic degradation, uptake by cells of the reticuloendothelial system, renal removal, and immunocomplex formation. This can lead to difficulties in reaching and maintaining effective therapeutic concentrations in the blood. The most popular approach to lengthen the active life of a protein therapeutic has been conjugation to polyethyleneglycol (PEGylation). However, PEG is not eliminated via normal detoxification mechanisms in the body and the administration of PEGylated proteins can even generate anti-PEG antibodies. An emerging alternative to PEGylation is polysialylation which involves attachment of polymers of polysialic acid (PSA) to a protein. PSA is being developed for clinical use and polysialylated versions of insulin and erythropoietin have displayed improved tolerance and pharmacokinetics. PSA is synthesized in the body on neural cell adhesion molecule and, unlike PEG, is metabolized as a natural sugar molecule by sialidases. Unfortunately, as with PEGylation, the PSA conjugation process is technically complex and expensive. The multi-step, in vitro process of PSA conjugation is further complicated by the fact that standard chemical conjugation of PSA results in products with random attachment patterns and undesirable heterogeneity. Glycobia specializes in glycoengineering bacteria for use as an expression platform for the stereospecific biosynthesis of therapeutic glycoproteins. The specific hypothesis behind the current proposed studies is that glycoengineered E. coli can be used to produce PSA-conjugated proteins in a single fermentation without the need for in vitro chemical modification. Based on these observations, the objective of this proposal is to generate PSA-conjugated recombinant protein in glycoengineered E. coli by: cloning and expressing the genetic machinery for PSA synthesis in glycoengineered E.
coli (Aim1) and conjugating PSA to recombinant human insulin in the periplasm of glycoengineered E.
coli (Aim 2). Such an expression platform will represent a stereospecific, directed, rapid, and cost-effective process for the production of PSA-conjugated biotherapeutics that will bring the production process of PSA-conjugated proteins in concert with their tremendous therapeutic potential.

Public Health Relevance

The efficacy of protein drugs is often compromised by premature elimination from the blood, which results in unacceptably short therapeutic windows and costs that are prohibitive to the healthcare consumer. The chemical attachment of polysialic acid to therapeutic proteins results in improved tolerance and pharmacokinetics, but the process of polysialic acid conjugation is technically challenging and expensive. These proposed studies focus on producing polysialic acid-conjugated proteins in Escherichia coli fermentation without the need for in vitro chemical modification.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMST-B (16))
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Marino, Pamela
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Glycobia, Inc.
United States
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Valentine, Jenny L; Chen, Linxiao; Perregaux, Emily C et al. (2016) Immunization with Outer Membrane Vesicles Displaying Designer Glycotopes Yields Class-Switched, Glycan-Specific Antibodies. Cell Chem Biol 23:655-65