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Techno-Economic Analysis of Horseradish Peroxidase Production Using a Transient Expression System in Nicotiana benthamiana

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Despite the advantages of plant-based transient expression systems relative to microbial or mammalian cell systems, the commercial production of recombinant proteins using plants has not yet been achieved to any significant extent. One of the challenges has been the lack of published data on the costs of manufacture for products other than biopharmaceuticals. In this study, we report on the techno-economic analysis of the production of a standard commercial enzyme, namely, horseradish peroxidase (HRP), using a transient expression system in Nicotiana benthamiana. Based on the proven plant yield of 240 mg HRP/kg biomass, a biomass productivity of 15-kg biomass/m2/year and a process yield of 54 % (mg HRP product/mg HRP in biomass), it is apparent that HRP can be manufactured economically via transient expression in plants in a large-scale facility (>5 kg HRP/year). At this level, the process is competitive versus the existing technology (extraction of the enzyme from horseradish), and the product is of comparable or improved activity, containing only the preferred isoenzyme C. Production scale, protein yield and biomass productivity are found to be the most important determinants of overall viability.

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DW acknowledges the National Intellectual Property Management Organisation and the Research Contracts and Intellectual Property Services of the University of Cape Town for funding this study. EPR acknowledges the Technology Innovation Agency and the Department of Science and Technology for funding the research.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests deriving from the subject matter of this work.

Authors’ Contributions

DW undertook the analyses and wrote the draft manuscript. EPR had overall responsibility for the work that provided the basis for the study, participated in its design and helped to draft the manuscript. SMH performed the laboratory work and edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to David Richard Walwyn.

Electronic supplementary material

The data sets and methodology supporting the results of this article are included within the article, the supplementary material, and in the cited work [23].


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Walwyn, D.R., Huddy, S.M. & Rybicki, E.P. Techno-Economic Analysis of Horseradish Peroxidase Production Using a Transient Expression System in Nicotiana benthamiana . Appl Biochem Biotechnol 175, 841–854 (2015).

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