Transferrin is an essential ingredient used in cell culture media due to its crucial role in regulating cellular iron uptake, transport, and utilization. It is also a promising drug carrier used to increase a drug’s therapeutic index via the unique transferrin receptor-mediated endocytosis pathway. Due to the high risk of contamination with blood–borne pathogens from the use of human or animal plasma-derived transferrin, recombinant transferrin is preferred for use as a replacement for native transferrin.

We expressed recombinant human transferrin in rice (Oryza sativa L.) at a high level of 1% seed dry weight (10 g/kg). The recombinant human transferrin was able to be extracted with saline buffers and then purified by a one step anion exchange chromatographic process to greater than 95% purity. The rice-derived recombinant human transferrin was shown to be not only structurally similar to the native human transferrin, but also functionally the same as native transferrin in terms of reversible iron binding and promoting cell growth and productivity.

These results indicate that rice-derived recombinant human transferrin should be a safe and low cost alternative to human or animal plasma-derived transferrin for use in cell culture-based biopharmaceutical production of protein therapeutics and vaccines

Deshui Zhanga, , , Somen Nandia, 1, Paula Bryana, 2, Steve Pettitb, Diane Nguyena, Mary Ann Santosb and Ning Huanga, b,

Protein Expression and Purification
Volume 74, Issue 1, November 2010, Pages 69-79