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Vaccine. 2003 Sep 8;21(25-26):4011-21.

Structural characterization of plant-derived hepatitis B surface antigen employed in oral immunization studies.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Several subunit vaccine antigens have been successfully expressed in plants and recently the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), expressed in potatoes, was shown to be orally immunogenic in animal studies. However, to date, a detailed analysis of the plant-derived antigen is lacking. Herein, we comprehensively characterize the structure and post-translational processing of HBsAg from potato tuber and two plant cell suspension cultures. The HBsAg was found to accumulate intracellularly as tubular structures, with a complex size distribution, differing substantially from the virus-like particle (VLP) preparations of the current commercial vaccines. Extensive disulfide-bond cross-linking, which is important for immunogenicity, was evident and 21-37% of total HBsAg protein displayed epitopes which correlate with vaccine potency. The significance of these results with regard to the production of cost-effective orally delivered vaccines is discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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