Identifying host cell metabolic phenotypes that promote high recombinant protein titer is a major goal of the biotech industry. (13)C metabolic flux analysis (MFA) provides a rigorous approach to quantify these metabolic phenotypes by applying isotope tracers to map the flow of carbon through intracellular metabolic pathways. Recent advances in tracer theory and measurements are enabling more information to be extracted from (13)C labeling experiments. Sustained development of publicly available software tools and standardization of experimental workflows is simultaneously encouraging increased adoption of (13)C MFA within the biotech research community. A number of recent (13)C MFA studies have identified increased citric acid cycle and pentose phosphate pathway fluxes as consistent markers of high recombinant protein expression, both in mammalian and microbial hosts. Further work is needed to determine whether redirecting flux into these pathways can effectively enhance protein titers while maintaining acceptable glycan profiles.
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