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Expression of an immunogenic LTB-based chimeric protein targeting Zaire ebolavirus epitopes from GP1 in plant cells

Ríos-Huerta, Regina, Monreal-Escalante, Elizabeth, Govea-Alonso, Dania O., Angulo, Carlos, Rosales-Mendoza, Sergio
Plant cell reports 2017 v.36 no.2 pp. 355-365
Escherichia coli, Zaire Ebola virus, developing countries, enterotoxins, epitopes, humoral immunity, immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin G, leaves, mice, neutralizing antibodies, oral vaccination, plant tissues, recombinant fusion proteins, subunit vaccines
KEY MESSAGE: An antigenic protein targeting two epitopes from the Zaire ebolavirus GP1 protein was expressed in plant cells rendering an antigen capable of inducing humoral responses in mouse when administered subcutaneously or orally. The 2014 Ebola outbreak made clear that new treatments and prophylactic strategies to fight this disease are needed. Since vaccination is an intervention that could achieve the control of this epidemic disease, exploring the production of new low-cost vaccines is a key path to consider; especially in developing countries. In this context, plants are attractive organisms for the synthesis and delivery of subunit vaccines. This study aimed at producing a chimeric protein named LTB-EBOV, based on the B subunit of the Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin as an immunogenic carrier and two epitopes from the Zaire ebolavirus GP1 protein recognized by neutralizing antibodies. The LTB-EBOV protein was expressed in plant tissues at levels up to 14.7 µg/g fresh leaf tissue and proven to be immunogenic in BALB/c mice when administered by either subcutaneous or oral routes. Importantly, IgA and IgG responses were induced following the oral immunization. The potential use of the plant-made LTB-EBOV protein against EBOV is discussed.