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Micro-algae come of age as a platform for recombinant protein production

  • Author(s): Specht, Elizabeth;
  • Miyake-Stoner, Shigeki;
  • Mayfield, Stephen
  • et al.

A complete set of genetic tools is still being developed for the micro-alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Yet even with this incomplete set, this photosynthetic single-celled plant has demonstrated significant promise as a platform for recombinant protein expression. In recent years, techniques have been developed that allow for robust expression of genes from both the nuclear and plastid genome. With these advances, many research groups have examined the pliability of this and other micro-algae as biological machines capable of producing recombinant peptides and proteins. This review describes recent successes in recombinant protein production in Chlamydomonas, including production of complex mammalian therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies at levels sufficient for production at economic parity with existing production platforms. These advances have also shed light on the details of algal protein production at the molecular level, and provide insight into the next steps for optimizing micro-algae as a useful platform for the production of therapeutic and industrially relevant recombinant proteins.

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