Development of an optimized Nicotiana benthamiana host line for transient expression of humanized IgG

Leblanc Z, Mortimer C, Naim F and Waterhouse P

Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Production of biologics in plants is forecast to be a disruptive technology in the pharmaceutical industry. An ideal plant system for this application is N. benthamiana, which is a relative of the tobacco plant and native to Australia. A diminished viral defence response in N. benthamiana facilitates its transient transformation by the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. In commercial biologics production systems this pathogen/host interaction is exploited to produce large amounts of a desired recombinant protein. Genome editing technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 provide a means to further improve N. benthamiana as a pharmaceutical and general biologics production host by increasing yield and human compatibility of recombinant proteins synthesized in this system. Leveraging the increased editing efficiencies seen in plant protoplast transformation as well as the granularity provided by this transformation medium, this study aims to generate ideal plant host lines for the production of biologics through multiplex editing of genes involved in glycosylation and pathogen defence.