Oligomerization status influences subcellular deposition and glycosylation of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase in Nicotiana benthamiana

Jeannine D. Schneider, Sylvestre Marillonnet, Alexandra Castilho, Clemens Gruber, Stefan Werner, Lukas Mach, Victor Klimyuk, Tsafrir Leket-Mor, Herta Steinkellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Plants have a proven track record for the expression of biopharmaceutically interesting proteins. Importantly, plants and mammals share a highly conserved secretory pathway that allows similar folding, assembly and posttranslational modifications of proteins. Human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is a highly sialylated, tetrameric serum protein, investigated as a bioscavenger for organophosphorous nerve agents. Expression of recombinant BChE (rBChE) in Nicotiana benthamiana results in accumulation of both monomers as well as assembled oligomers. In particular, we show here that co-expression of BChE with a novel gene-stacking vector, carrying six mammalian genes necessary for in planta protein sialylation, resulted in the generation of rBChE decorated with sialylated N-glycans. The N-glycosylation profile of monomeric rBChE secreted to the apoplast largely resembles the plasma-derived orthologue. In contrast, rBChE purified from total soluble protein extracts was decorated with a significant portion of ER-typical oligomannosidic structures. Biochemical analyses and live-cell imaging experiments indicated that impaired N-glycan processing is due to aberrant deposition of rBChE oligomers in the endoplasmic reticulum or endoplasmic-reticulum-derived compartments. In summary, we show the assembly of rBChE multimers, however, also points to the need for in-depth studies to explain the unexpected subcellular targeting of oligomeric BChE in plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-839
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Glycoengineering
  • Plants
  • Sialic acid
  • Subcellular targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Oligomerization status influences subcellular deposition and glycosylation of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase in Nicotiana benthamiana'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this