Selective Hydrophobic Interaction Chromatography for High Purity of Supercoiled DNA Plasmids

Klemen Božič, Ajda Sedlar, Špela Kralj, Urh Černigoj, Aleš Štrancar, Rok Sekirnik

Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2024, 1–11

Abstract:
High purity of plasmid DNA (pDNA), particularly in supercoiled isoform (SC), is used for various biopharmaceutical applications, such as a transfecting agent for production of gene therapy viral vectors, for pDNA vaccines, or as a precursor for linearized form that serves as a template for mRNA synthesis. In clinical manufacturing, pDNA is commonly extracted from Escherichia coli cells with alkaline lysis followed by anion exchange chromatography or tangential flow filtration as a capture step for pDNA. Both methods remove a high degree of host cell contaminants but are unable to generically discriminate between SC and open-circular (OC) pDNA isoforms, as well as other DNA impurities, such as genomic DNA (gDNA). Hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) is commonly used as polishing purification for pDNA. We developed HIC-based polishing purification methodology that is highly selective for enrichment of SC pDNA. It is generic with respect to plasmid size, scalable, and GMP compatible. The technique uses ammonium sulfate, a kosmotropic salt, at a concentration selective for SC pDNA binding to a butyl monolith column, while OC pDNA and gDNA are removed in flow-through. The approach is validated on multiple adeno-associated virus- and mRNA-encoding plasmids ranging from 3 to 12 kbp. We show good scalability to at least 300 mg of >95% SC pDNA, thus paving the way to increase the quality of genomic medicines that utilize pDNA as a key raw material.

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