Comparison of CD20 Binding Affinities of Rituximab Produced in Nicotiana benthamiana Leaves and Arabidopsis thaliana Callus

Cho Eun Kang, Seungeun Lee, Dong Hye Seo, Woon Heo, Sun Hyung Kwon, Jeong Ryeol Kim, Jinu Lee, Byoung Joon Ko, Hisashi Koiwa, Woo Taek Kim, Joo Young Kim

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Plants are promising drug-production platforms with high economic efficiency, stability, and convenience in mass production. However, studies comparing the equivalency between the original antibodies and those produced in plants are limited. Amino acid sequences that constitute the Fab region of an antibody are diverse, and the post-transcriptional modifications that occur according to these sequences in animals and plants are also highly variable. In this study, rituximab, a blockbuster antibody drug used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was produced in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves and Arabidopsis thaliana callus, and was compared to the original rituximab produced in CHO cells. Interestingly, the epitope recognition and antigen-binding abilities of rituximab from N. benthamiana leaves were almost lost. In the case of rituximab produced in A. thaliana callus, the specific binding ability and CD20 capping activity were maintained, but the binding affinity was less than 50% of that of original rituximab from CHO cells. These results suggest that different plant species exhibit different binding affinities. Accordingly, in addition to the differences in PTMs between mammals and plants, the differences between the species must also be considered in the process of producing antibodies in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1016-1029
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Biotechnology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea, Project Nos. NFR-2019R1A2C1086348 to J.Y.K.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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