Detecting cell lysis using viscosity monitoring inE. colifermentation to prevent product loss

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Monitoring the physical or chemical properties of cell broths to infer cell status is often challenging due to the complex nature of the broth. Key factors indicative of cell status include cell density, cell viability, product leakage, and DNA release to the fermentation broth. The rapid and accurate prediction of cell status for hosts with intracellular protein products can minimise product loss due to leakage at the onset of cell lysis in fermentation. This article reports the rheological examination of an industrially relevant E. coli fermentation producing antibody fragments (Fab'). Viscosity monitoring showed an increase in viscosity during the exponential phase in relation to the cell density increase, a relatively flat profile in the stationary phase, followed by a rapid increase which correlated well with product loss, DNA release and loss of cell viability. This phenomenon was observed over several fermentations that a 25% increase in broth viscosity (using induction-point viscosity as a reference) indicated 10% product loss. Our results suggest that viscosity can accurately detect cell lysis and product leakage in postinduction cell cultures, and can identify cell lysis earlier than several other common fermentation monitoring techniques. This work demonstrates the utility of rapidly monitoring the physical properties of fermentation broths, and that viscosity monitoring has the potential to be a tool for process development to determine the optimal harvest time and minimise product loss. © 2016 The Authors. Biotechnology Progress published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 32:1069–1076, 2016

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