April 20, 2024

Protein A Resin: A Key Component in Biopharmaceutical Production


Protein A resin has become one of the most commonly used affinity chromatography resins for the purification of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. This article provides an overview of protein A resin, how it works, different types available and its applications in antibody purification.

What is Protein A Resin?

Protein A resin consists of the protein A molecule immobilized on an inert support such as agarose or cross-linked dextran. Protein A is a 42 kDa cell wall protein found in Staphylococcus aureus that has a strong and specific affinity for the Fc region of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies from several mammalian species including human, mouse, rabbit etc. Due to this affinity, protein A resin serves as an excellent chromatography matrix for the capture and purification of IgG antibodies from various samples such as serum, ascites fluid or cell culture supernatants.

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Mechanism of Protein A chromatography

The mechanism underlying protein A chromatography is based on the interaction between protein A and the Fc region of IgG antibodies. Protein A has five homologous IgG-binding domains that can each interact with the Fc region of IgG molecules. During chromatography, as a sample containing IgG antibodies is passed through the protein A column, the Fc regions of the IgGs will specifically and strongly bind to the protein A ligands immobilized on the resin beads. Non-IgG contaminants pass through the column unbound. IgG molecules are then eluted from the column either by changing the pH or using competitive elution with non-IgG proteins. This high specificity and affinity interaction allows for extremely efficient purification of intact antibodies with a purity of up to 95%.

Types of Protein A Resins

Several types of protein A resins are commercially available with variations in ligands, matrices and performance characteristics:

– Agarose-based: One of the earliest types consisting of protein A coupled to cross-linked agarose beads. Very robust but lacks high binding capacity.

– Group-specific resins: Protein A ligands coupled specifically to dextran, acrylamide or polysaccharide matrices providing much higher dynamic binding capacities.

– High-flow resins: Matrices optimized for increased flow rates and scale-up applications.

– Pre-packed column formats: Ready-to-use pre-packed protein A columns in various sizes for standardized purification workflows.

– Multimodal resins: Covalently linked to additional ligands such as Capto adhere, MabSelect SuRe for capturing additional antibody variants.

Applications of Protein A Resin

Due to the robust technology and excellent recovery of antibodies, protein A chromatography stands as the method of choice for the purification of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies from various production platforms:

– Purification from transgenic plant or animal plants: Harvested IgG from plants or eggs are purified using protein A resins in batch or chromatography mode.

– Purification from hybridoma cell culture: Supernatants from hybridoma cell cultures secreting monoclonal antibodies are loaded onto protein A columns.

– Purification from serum and ascites samples: Protein A chromatography is commonly used to isolate monoclonal antibodies produced through ascites or serum in mice.

– Purification of therapeutic IgG antibodies: At industrial scales, protein A chromatography is the workhorse method for purification of antibodies from mammalian cell culture in the biopharmaceutical industry.

– Sample preparation for downstream analysis: Protein A resins are routinely used to concentrate and buffer exchange antibody samples for techniques like ELISA, western blotting etc.


In summary, protein A resin chromatography has revolutionized the antibody purification landscape by offering a highly selective, efficient and reproducible method for isolating intact antibodies. Coupled with technology improvements in resins, media and instrumentation, protein A has become the gold standard affinity purification technique for monoclonal antibodies in research, bioprocessing and therapeutic applications. Developments in new affinity resins will continue to enhance protein A chromatography performance levels further.