The expression of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) host-protective immunogen VP2 protein in rice seeds, its immunogenicity and protective capability in chickens were investigated. The VP2 cDNA of IBDV strain ZJ2000 was cloned downstream of the Gt1 promoter of the rice glutelin GluA-2 gene in the binary expression vector, pCambia1301-Gt1. Agrobacterium tumefaciens containing the recombinant vector was used to transform rice embryogenic calli, and 121 transgenic lines were obtained and grown to maturity in a greenhouse. The expression level of VP2 protein in transgenic rice seeds varied from 0.678% to 4.521% µg/mg of the total soluble seed protein. Specific pathogen-free chickens orally vaccinated with transgenic rice seeds expressing VP2 protein produced neutralizing antibodies against IBDV and were protected when challenged with a highly virulent IBDV strain, BC6/85. These results demonstrate that transgenic rice seeds expressing IBDV VP2 can be used as an effective, safe and inexpensive vaccine against IBDV.
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