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Plant Biotechnol J. 2015 Jan;13(1):62-72. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12235. Epub 2014 Jul 26.

Oral immunization of haemaggulutinin H5 expressed in plant endoplasmic reticulum with adjuvant saponin protects mice against highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus infection.

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School of Interdisciplinary Bioscience and Bioengineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, Korea; Academy of Immunology and Microbiology (AIM), Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Pohang, Korea.


Pandemics in poultry caused by the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A virus occur too frequently globally, and there is growing concern about the HPAI A virus due to the possibility of a pandemic among humans. Thus, it is important to develop a vaccine against HPAI suitable for both humans and animals. Various approaches are underway to develop such vaccines. In particular, an edible vaccine would be a convenient way to vaccinate poultry because of the behaviour of the animals. However, an edible vaccine is still not available. In this study, we developed a strategy of effective vaccination of mice by the oral administration of transgenic Arabidopsis plants (HA-TG) expressing haemagglutinin (HA) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Expression of HA in the ER resulted in its high-level accumulation, N-glycosylation, protection from proteolytic degradation and long-term stability. Oral administration of HA-TG with saponin elicited high levels of HA-specific systemic IgG and mucosal IgA responses in mice, which resulted in protection against a lethal influenza virus infection with attenuated inflammatory symptoms. Based on these results, we propose that oral administration of freeze-dried leaf powders from transgenic plants expressing HA in the ER together with saponin is an attractive strategy for vaccination against influenza A virus.


ER-targeted haemagglutinin; adjuvant Saponin; highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; influenza infection; mucosal immunity; plant edible vaccine

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