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J Biotechnol. 2007 Feb 20;128(3):512-8. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

Multimerization of peptide antigens for production of stable immunogens in transgenic plants.

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Departamento de Biotecnología, INIA, Ctra. A Coruña Km 7, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Previous literature addressing the production of recombinant proteins in heterologous systems has consistently shown that proteins capable of forming complex structures tend to accumulate within host cells at relatively higher levels than monomeric forms. In this report, we translationally fused a 21-aminoacids long highly immunogenic peptide (2L21), derived from canine parvovirus (CPV) VP2 protein to a 41-aminoacid long tetramerization domain (TD) from the transcriptional factor p53. The chimerical DNA construction 2L21-TD was cloned in a binary plant transformation vector and used to transform Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Fifteen of the 25 transgenic lines obtained in the experiment showed detectable 2L21-TD RNA accumulation and from these we chose 4 to study 2L21-TD protein accumulation. Non-denaturing immunoblotting assays revealed that 2L21-TD chimeras effectively formed tetrameric complexes with yields reaching up to 12mug/mg of soluble protein. Mice immunized by oral or intraperitoneal routes with crude protein extracts containing 2L21-TD protein were able to detect both 2L21-synthetic peptide and CPV VP2 proteins, with titers similar to those elicited by a previously reported fusion between 2L21 and the beta-glucuronidase protein. These results demonstrate that multimerization directed by the small TD domain contributed to the stabilization and consequently to the accumulation of the 2L21 peptide in transgenic plants, without altering its native antigenicity and immunogenicity.

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