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Open Access Research

Development of new plasmid DNA vaccine vectors with R1-based replicons

Diana M Bower and Kristala LJ Prather*

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 66-454, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA

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Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:107  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-107

Published: 13 August 2012

Abstract

Background

There has been renewed interest in biopharmaceuticals based on plasmid DNA (pDNA) in recent years due to the approval of several veterinary DNA vaccines, on-going clinical trials of human pDNA-based therapies, and significant advances in adjuvants and delivery vehicles that have helped overcome earlier efficacy deficits. With this interest comes the need for high-yield, cost-effective manufacturing processes. To this end, vector engineering is one promising strategy to improve plasmid production.

Results

In this work, we have constructed a new DNA vaccine vector, pDMB02-GFP, containing the runaway R1 origin of replication. The runaway replication phenotype should result in plasmid copy number amplification after a temperature shift from 30°C to 42°C. However, using Escherichia coli DH5α as a host, we observed that the highest yields of pDMB02-GFP were achieved during constant-temperature culture at 30°C, with a maximum yield of approximately 19 mg pDNA/g DCW being observed. By measuring mRNA and protein levels of the R1 replication initiator protein, RepA, we determined that RepA may be limiting pDMB02-GFP yield at 42°C. A mutant plasmid, pDMB-ATG, was constructed by changing the repA start codon from the sub-optimal GTG to ATG. In cultures of DH5α[pDMB-ATG], temperature-induced plasmid amplification was more dramatic than that observed with pDMB02-GFP, and RepA protein was detectable for several hours longer than in cultures of pDMB02-GFP at 42°C.

Conclusions

Overall, we have demonstrated that R1-based plasmids can produce high yields of high-quality pDNA without the need for a temperature shift, and have laid the groundwork for further investigation of this class of vectors in the context of plasmid DNA production.

Keywords:
Plasmid DNA; DNA vaccines; R1 replicon; Runaway replication