BioPharm: How customary is it for a college or university laboratory to use a fermentor to grow culture?
Stevens: In researching the purchase of the equipment for our facility, we found that many academic laboratories, departments, and colleges that used large-scale fermentation at one time have discontinued their use in the last several years. In the past decade or more, laboratories interested in milligram quantities of protein have dispensed with large-scale growth of microorganisms as bacterial over-expression systems have progressed to the point where hundreds of milligrams of product can often be purified from one to five liters of culture. In the current age of structural genomics where the low-hanging fruit of easily expressed single polypeptides will have their structures determined rapidly, these smallscale cultures are ideal.
For investigators like myself who
study polypeptides of up to 280 kD
contained in macromolecular complexes
composed of dozens of
polypeptides and several RNAs,
those structures will only be determined
through the brute-force techniques
we use to purify them from
their natural hosts. Several factors