Although the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes one of the most important infectious diseases worldwide, attempts to develop an effective vaccine remain elusive. Designing recombinant proteins capable of eliciting significant and protective mammalian immune responses remain a priority. Moreover, large-scale production of proteins of interest at affordable cost remains a challenge for modern biotechnology. In this study, a synthetic gene encoding a C4V3 recombinant protein, known to induce systemic and mucosal immune responses in mammalian systems, has been introduced into tobacco chloroplasts to yield high levels of expression. Integration of the transgene into the tobacco plastome has been verified by Southern blot hybridization. The recombinant C4V3 protein is also detected in tobacco chloroplasts by confocal microscopy. Reactivity of the heterologous protein with both an anti-C4V3 rabbit serum as well as sera from HIV positive patients have been assayed using Western blots. When administered by the oral route in a four-weekly dose immunization scheme, the plant-derived C4V3 has elicited both systemic and mucosal antibody responses in BALB/c mice, as well as CD4+ T cell proliferation responses. These findings support the viability of using plant chloroplasts as biofactories for HIV candidate vaccines, and could serve as important vehicles for the development of a plant-based candidate vaccine against HIV.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 7, 2012
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