CMV promoter mutants with a reduced propensity to productivity loss in CHO cells
The major immediate-early promoter and enhancer of the human cytomegalovirus (hCMV-MIE) is one of the most potent DNA elements driving recombinant gene expression in mammalian cells. Therefore, it is widely employed not only in research but also in large-scale industrial applications, e.g. for the production of therapeutic antibodies in Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO). As we have reported previously, multi-site methylation of hCMV-MIE is linked to productivity loss in permanently transfected CHO cells lines. In particular, the cytosine located 179 bp upstream of the transcription start site (C-179) is frequently methylated. Therefore, our objective was to study whether mutation of C-179 and other cytosines within hCMV-MIE might lessen the instability of transgene expression. We discovered that the single mutation of C-179 to G can significantly stabilise the production of recombinant protein under control of hCMV-MIE in permanently transfected CHO cells.