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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 16;100(19):11127-32. Epub 2003 Sep 5.

Localization of a bacterial protein in starch granules of transgenic maize kernels.

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Plant Transformation Facility, Interdisciplinary Genetics Program, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1010, USA.


The B subunit of Escherichia coli heat labile enterotoxin (LT-B) is a potent oral immunogen with potential for use as a vaccine, a carrier molecule to deliver antigens to gut-associated lymphoid tissues, and possibly an adjuvant to make coadministered vaccines more effective. LT-B produced in plants was shown to be functional and immunogenic in animals and humans. In this work, we show that maize-derived LT-B is strongly associated with starch granules in endosperm. Using immunogold labeling/electron microscopy, cell fractionation, and protein analysis techniques, we observed that LT-B protein could be detected both internally and externally in starch granules. This strong association confers an effective copurification of the antigen with the starch fraction of maize kernels, thermostability desirable in maize processing, and resistance to peptic degradation in simulated gastric fluid digests, an important attribute for an orally delivered antigen.

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