DAGZ > IPBT > Steinkellner

Molecular Plant Biotechnology



Expression of recombinant proteins in plants, molecular basis of the N-glycan biosynthesis pathway in plants. Intracellular molecular processes of glycan biosynthesis and protein transport.

Leader: Ao.Univ.Prof. Mag. Dr. Herta Steinkellner


The research area encompasses basic research with application-oriented aspects in the field of molecular cell biology and biotechnology. The aim is to understand the molecular cellular processes involved in the expression of recombinant proteins in plants in order to use these optimally for the production of biopharmaceuticals. Of particular interest is above all the investigation and the targeted modification of posttranslational modifications such as glycosylation.

Specific tasks:

  • Biosynthesis of  recombinant secretory proteins in plants
  • Intracellular transport of (recombinant) proteins in plants
  • Subcellular compartmentation 
  • Molekular mechanisms of glycan-biosynthesis and targeted manipulation thereof (Glycan engineering)

Curriculum Vitae



selected publications

Comparative analysis of plant transient expression vectors for targeted N-glycosylation. Eidenberger L, Eminger, F, Castilho A, Steinkellner H. Front Bioeng Biotechnol, 2022. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2022.1073455

The potency and synergy of plant-made monoclonal antibodies against the BA.5 variant of SARS-CoV-2. Sun H, Jugler C, Nguyen K, Steinkellner H, Chen Q. Plant Biotechnol J. 2022. doi.org/10.1111/pbi.13980 

A novel plant-made monoclonal antibody enhances the synergetic potency of an antibody cocktail against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant. Jugler C, Sun H, Nguyen K, Palt R, Felder M, Steinkellner H, Chen Q. Plant Biotechnol J. 2022. doi: 10.1111/pbi.13970

Humanization and expression of IgG and IgM antibodies in plants as potential diagnostic reagents for Valley Fever. Jugler C, Grill FJ, Eidenberger L, Karr TL, Grys TE, Steinkellner H, Lake DF, Chen Q. Front Plant Sci. 2022. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.925008

Highly active engineered IgG3 antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Kallolimath S, Sun L, Palt R, Stiasny K, Mayrhofer P, Gruber C, Kogelmann B, Chen Q, Steinkellner H. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 doi: 10.1073/pnas.2107249118. PMID: 34599091 Free PMC article.

Increased in vitro neutralizing activity of SARS-CoV-2 IgA1 dimers compared to monomers and IgG. Sun L, Kallolimath S, Palt R, Stiasny K, Mayrhofer P, Maresch D, Eidenberger L, Steinkellner H. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 doi: 10.1073/pnas.2107148118.

Expression Profiling and Glycan Engineering of IgG Subclass 1-4 in Nicotiana benthamiana. Kallolimath S, Hackl T, Gahn R, Grünwald-Gruber C, Zich W, Kogelmann B, Lux A, Nimmerjahn F, Steinkellner H. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2020.00825.

In Planta Glycan Engineering and Functional Activities of IgE Antibodies. Montero-Morales L, Maresch D, Crescioli S, Castilho A, Ilieva KM, Mele S, Karagiannis SN, Altmann F, Steinkellner H. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2019. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00242.

Advanced Plant-Based Glycan Engineering. Montero-Morales L, Steinkellner H. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2018 doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00081. eCollection 2018. Review.

Therapeutic treatment of Marburg and Ravn virus infection in nonhuman primates with a human monoclonal antibody. Mire CE, Geisbert JB, Fenton KA, Agans KN, Flyak AI, Deer DJ, Steinkellner H, Bohorov O, Goodman C, Hiatt A, Kim DH, Pauly MH, Whaley KJ, Crowe JE Jr, Zeitlin L, Geisbert TW. Sci Transl Med. 2017, 9. pii: eaai8711. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8711.

Engineering of complex protein sialylation in plants. Kallolimath S, Castilho A, Strasser R, Grünwald-Gruber C, Altmann F,  Galuska CE, Galuska SP, Werner S, Werneburg S, Hildebrandt H, Gerardy-Schahn R, Steinkellner H. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 ;113:9498-503. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1604371113.

Monoclonal antibody therapy for Junin virus infection. Zeitlin L, Geisbert JB, Deer DJ, Fenton KA, Bohorov O, Bohorova N, Goodman C, Kim D, Hiatt A, Pauly MH, Velasco J, Whaley KJ, Altmann F, Gruber C, Steinkellner H, Honko AN, Kuehne AI, Aman MJ, Sahandi S, Enterlein S, Zhan X, Enria D, Geisbert TW. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Apr 4. pii: 201600996. 

Transient Glyco-Engineering to Produce Recombinant IgA1 with Defined N- and O-Glycans in Plants. Dicker M, Tschofen M, Maresch D, König J, Juarez P, Orzaez D, Altmann F, Steinkellner H, Strasser R. Front Plant Sci. 2016 Jan 29;7:18. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00018.

Glycan modulation and sulfoengineering of anti-HIV-1 monoclonal antibody PG9 in plants. Loos A, Gach JS, Hackl T, Maresch D, Henkel T, Porodko A, Bui-Minh D, Sommeregger W, Wozniak-Knopp G, Forthal DN, Altmann F, Steinkellner H, Mach L. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 ;112(41):12675-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1509090112.

Loos A, Gruber C, Altmann F, Mehofer U, Hensel F, Grandits M, Oostenbrink C, Stadlmayr G, Furtmüller PG, Steinkellner H. (2014) Expression and glycoengineering of functionally active heteromultimeric IgM in plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111:6263-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320544111.

Schneider JD, Marillonnet S, Castilho A, Gruber C, Werner S, Mach L, Klimyuk V, Mor TS, Steinkellner H. (2014)  Oligomerization status influences subcellular deposition and glycosylation of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase in Nicotiana benthamiana. Plant Biotechnol J. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12184

Castilho A, Neumann L, Gattinger P, Strasser R, Vorauer-Uhl K, Sterovsky T, Altmann F, Steinkellner H. (2013) Generation of biologically active multi-sialylated recombinant human EPOFc in plants. PLoS One.8:e54836. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054836. 

Castilho A, Neumann L, Daskalova S, Mason HS, Steinkellner H, Altmann F, Strasser R. (2012). Engineering of sialylated mucin-type O-glycosylation in plants. J Biol Chem. 287:36518-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.402685. 

Jez J, Antes B, Castilho A, Kainer M, Wiederkum S, Grass J, Rüker F, Woisetschläger M, Steinkellner H. (2012). Significant impact of single N-glycan residues on the biological activity of Fc-based antibody-like fragments. J Biol Chem. 287:24313-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.360701.

Zeitlin L, Pettitt J, Scully C, Bohorova N, Kim D, Pauly M, Hiatt A, Ngo L, Steinkellner H, Whaley KJ, Olinger GG. (2011) Enhanced potency of a fucose-free monoclonal antibody being developed as an Ebola virus immunoprotectant. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108:20690-4.

Funding Agencies

Selected international collaborations:

  • Medical School Hannover, GER (contact: Rita Gerardy Schahn)
  • University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, GER (contact Falk Nimmerjahn)
  • University of California, Irvine, USA (contact: Johannes Gach/Donald Forthal)
  • Biodesign Institute - Arizona State University, USA (contact: Qiang Chen)