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Plant Biotechnol J. 2014 Oct;12(8):1098-107. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12217. Epub 2014 Jun 29.

Structural and functional characterization of an anti-West Nile virus monoclonal antibody and its single-chain variant produced in glycoengineered plants.

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The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.


Previously, our group engineered a plant-derived monoclonal antibody (MAb pE16) that efficiently treated West Nile virus (WNV) infection in mice. In this study, we developed a pE16 variant consisting of a single-chain variable fragment (scFv) fused to the heavy chain constant domains (CH) of human IgG (pE16scFv-CH). pE16 and pE16scFv-CH were expressed and assembled efficiently in Nicotiana benthamiana ∆XF plants, a glycosylation mutant lacking plant-specific N-glycan residues. Glycan analysis revealed that ∆XF plant-derived pE16scFv-CH (∆XFpE16scFv-CH) and pE16 (∆XFpE16) both displayed a mammalian glycosylation profile. ∆XFpE16 and ∆XFpE16scFv-CH demonstrated equivalent antigen-binding affinity and kinetics, and slightly enhanced neutralization of WNV in vitro compared with the parent mammalian cell-produced E16 (mE16). A single dose of ∆XFpE16 or ∆XFpE16scFv-CH protected mice against WNV-induced mortality even 4 days after infection at equivalent rates as mE16. This study provides a detailed tandem comparison of the expression, structure and function of a therapeutic MAb and its single-chain variant produced in glycoengineered plants. Moreover, it demonstrates the development of anti-WNV MAb therapeutic variants that are equivalent in efficacy to pE16, simpler to produce, and likely safer to use as therapeutics due to their mammalian N-glycosylation. This platform may lead to a more robust and cost-effective production of antibody-based therapeutics against WNV infection and other infectious, inflammatory or neoplastic diseases.


West Nile virus; glycoengineered plants; glycosylation; plant-made biologics; scFv-Fc; single-chain antibody

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