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Design of a multiepitopic Zaire ebolavirus protein and its expression in plant cells

Nieto-Gómez, Ricardo, Angulo, Carlos, Monreal-Escalante, Elizabeth, Govea-Alonso, Dania O., De Groot, Annie S., Rosales-Mendoza, Sergio
Journal of biotechnology 2019 v.295 pp. 41-48
B-lymphocytes, Zaire Ebola virus, edible vaccines, epitopes, glycoproteins, immune response, immunoinformatics, pathogens, tobacco, vaccination
The recent Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks make the development of efficacious and low cost vaccines against Ebola virus (EBOV) an urgent goal. Multiepitopic vaccines allow a rational design rendering vaccines able to induce proper immune responses in terms of polarization and potency. In addition, the pathogen variants can be easily covered by including epitopes conserved among relevant isolates. Other important aspects to consider in vaccination are the costs associated to production, distribution, and administration of the vaccine. Plants provide an advantageous platform for this purpose, since they yield biomass at very low costs and some species can be used to formulate purification-free oral vaccines. In the present study, a multiepitopic protein called Zerola, which carries epitopes from the EBOV glycoprotein (GP), was designed based on immunoinformatic approaches and current experimental evidence on B cell protective GP epitopes. Moreover, expression studies performed in nuclear-transformed tobacco lines confirmed the capacity of the plant cell to synthetize the Zerola antigenic protein. The generation of this plant-based candidate vaccine is a step forward in the development of highly efficient and low cost EBOV vaccines.