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Development and Scale-up of Oligo-dT Monolithic Chromatographic Column for mRNA Capture Through Understanding of Base-Pairing Interactions

Nina Mencin, Dona Štepec, Alja Margon, Jana Vidič, Darko Dolenc, Tina Simčič, Sara Rotar, Rok Sekirnik, Aleš Štrancar, Urh Černigoj

Separation and Purification Technology, Volume 304, 1 January 2023

Oligo-deoxythymidilic acid (OdT) probes conjugated to solid-phase supports exhibit high affinity for poly-adenylated mRNA (target) through high-affinity base-pairing interactions. Here we report the development of a OdT-functionalized chromatographic monolith for purification of polyadenylated mRNA and development of purification methods to support large-scale purification of mRNA-based therapeutics. We report the development of a chromatographic assay based on a synthetic oligo-deoxyadenylic acid chain of 10 or 20 nucleotides (OdA10 and OdA20) as a surrogate for polyadenylated mRNA, which was used for optimization of the OdT affinity column (i.e. the amount and structure of OdT immobilized and monolithic channel size). OdA hybridization to OdT monoliths correlated well with the amount of immobilized OdT, while an in-depth analysis revealed that hybridization yield decreased with increasing size of the target, temperature and probe surface coverage. OdA hybridization kinetics was flow rate-independent, confirming convection-based mass transport within the monolith’s channels. The demonstrated steep adsorption isotherms enable chromatographic capture of even highly diluted OdA-containing molecules. Dynamic binding capacity for model mRNA was independent of OdT length and amount of immobilized OdT probes above a critical threshold but was highly influenced by the composition of the binding buffer and mRNA residence time. We demonstrated the scalability of the mRNA purification process with OdT monoliths from 0.1 mL to at least 800 mL bed volume, paving the way for manufacturing processes on OdT monoliths with 40 L bed volume.

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