A DNA replicon system for rapid high-level production of virus-like particles in plants

Authors

  • Zhong Huang,

    1. Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287; telephone: 480-727-8228; fax: 480-727-6194
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  • Qiang Chen,

    1. Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287; telephone: 480-727-8228; fax: 480-727-6194
    2. Department of Applied Biological Sciences, Arizona State University, Mesa, Arizona
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  • Brooke Hjelm,

    1. Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287; telephone: 480-727-8228; fax: 480-727-6194
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  • Charles Arntzen,

    1. Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287; telephone: 480-727-8228; fax: 480-727-6194
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  • Hugh Mason

    Corresponding author
    1. Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287; telephone: 480-727-8228; fax: 480-727-6194
    • Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287; telephone: 480-727-8228; fax: 480-727-6194.
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Abstract

Recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) represent a safe and effective vaccine strategy. We previously described a stable transgenic plant system for inexpensive production and oral delivery of VLP vaccines. However, the relatively low-level antigen accumulation and long-time frame to produce transgenic plants are the two major roadblocks in the practical development of plant-based VLP production. In this article, we describe the optimization of geminivirus-derived DNA replicon vectors for rapid, high-yield plant-based production of VLPs. Co-delivery of bean yellow dwarf virus (BeYDV)-derived vector and Rep/RepA-supplying vector by agroinfiltration of Nicotiana benthamiana leaves resulted in efficient replicon amplification and robust protein production within 5 days. Co-expression of the P19 protein of tomato bush stunt virus, a gene silencing inhibitor, further enhanced VLP accumulation by stabilizing the mRNA. With this system, hepatitis B core antigen (HBc) and Norwalk virus capsid protein (NVCP) were produced at 0.80 and 0.34 mg/g leaf fresh weight, respectively. Sedimentation analysis and electron microscopy of transiently expressed antigens verified the efficient assembly of VLPs. Furthermore, a single replicon vector containing a built-in Rep/RepA cassette without P19 drove protein expression at similar levels as the three-component system. These results demonstrate the advantages of fast and high-level production of VLP-based vaccines using the BeYDV-derived DNA replicon system for transient expression in plants. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009;103: 706–714. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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