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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 952865, 10 pages
Research Article

A Plant-Produced Antigen Elicits Potent Immune Responses against West Nile Virus in Mice

1The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, 1001 S. McAllister Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
2School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA

Received 10 February 2014; Accepted 8 March 2014; Published 3 April 2014

Academic Editor: Luca Santi

Copyright © 2014 Junyun He et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We described the rapid production of the domain III (DIII) of the envelope (E) protein in plants as a vaccine candidate for West Nile Virus (WNV). Using various combinations of vector modules of a deconstructed viral vector expression system, DIII was produced in three subcellular compartments in leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana by transient expression. DIII expressed at much higher levels when targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) than that targeted to the chloroplast or the cytosol, with accumulation level up to 73 μg DIII per gram of leaf fresh weight within 4 days after infiltration. Plant ER-derived DIII was soluble and readily purified to > 95% homogeneity without the time-consuming process of denaturing and refolding. Further analysis revealed that plant-produced DIII was processed properly and demonstrated specific binding to an anti-DIII monoclonal antibody that recognizes a conformational epitope. Furthermore, subcutaneous immunization of mice with 5 and 25 μg of purified DIII elicited a potent systemic response. This study provided the proof of principle for rapidly producing immunogenic vaccine candidates against WNV in plants with low cost and scalability.