Summary Plants offer an alternative to microbial fermentation and animal cell cultures for the production of recombinant proteins. For protein pharmaceuticals, plant systems are inherently safer than native and even recombinant animal sources. In addition, post-translational modifications, such as glycosylation, which cannot be achieved with bacterial fermentation, can be accomplished using plants. The main advantage foreseen for plant systems is reduced production costs. Plants should have a particular advantage for proteins produced in bulk, such as industrial enzymes, for which product pricing is low. In addition, edible plant tissues are well suited to the expression of vaccine antigens and pharmaceuticals for oral delivery. Three approaches have been followed to express recombinant proteins in plants: expression from the plant nuclear genome; expression from the plastid genome; and expression from plant tissues carrying recombinant plant viral sequences. The most important factor in moving plant-produced heterologous proteins from developmental research to commercial products is to ensure competitive production costs, and the best way to achieve this is to boost expression. Thus, considerable research effort has been made to increase the amount of recombinant protein produced in plants. This research includes molecular technologies to increase replication, to boost transcription, to direct transcription in tissues suited for protein accumulation, to stabilize transcripts, to optimize translation, to target proteins to subcellular locations optimal for their accumulation, and to engineer proteins to stabilize them. Other methods include plant breeding to increase transgene copy number and to utilize germplasm suited to protein accumulation. Large-scale commercialization of plant-produced recombinant proteins will require a combination of these technologies.
Plant Biotechnology Journal – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2007
Keywords: foreign gene expression; heterologous gene expression; industrial protein production; plant-based vaccines; plant-produced pharmaceuticals; recombinant protein production
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