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Virus Res. 2006 Sep;120(1-2):91-6. Epub 2006 Mar 13.

Transient expression of Human papillomavirus type 16 L1 protein in Nicotiana benthamiana using an infectious tobamovirus vector.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7701, South Africa.


A Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV)-derived vector was used to express a native Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) L1 gene in Nicotiana benthamiana by means of infectious in vitro RNA transcripts inoculated onto N. benthamiana plants. HPV-16 L1 protein expression was quantitated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) after concentration of the plant extract. We estimated that the L1 product yield was 20-37 microg/kg of fresh leaf material. The L1 protein in the concentrated extract was antigenically characterised using the neutralising and conformation-specific Mabs H16:V5 and H16:E70, which bound to the plant-produced protein. Particles observed by transmission electron microscopy were mainly capsomers but virus-like particles (VLPs) similar to those produced in other systems were also present. Immunisation of rabbits with the concentrated plant extract induced a weak immune response. This is the first report of the successful expression of an HPV L1 gene in plants using a plant virus vector.

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