Original Paper

Transgenic Research

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 685-696

First online:

Expression and purification of an anti-Foot-and-mouth disease virus single chain variable antibody fragment in tobacco plants

  • J. J. JoensuuAffiliated withAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
  • , K. D. BrownAffiliated withAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • , A. J. ConleyAffiliated withAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaDepartment of Biology, University of Western Ontario
  • , A. ClavijoAffiliated withCanadian Food Inspection Agency
  • , R. MenassaAffiliated withAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada Email author 
  • , J. E. BrandleAffiliated withAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaVineland Research and Innovation Centre

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Low-cost recombinant antibodies could provide a new strategy to control Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) outbreaks by passive immunization of susceptible animals. In this study, a single chain variable antibody fragment (scFv) recognizing FMDV coat protein VP1 was expressed in transgenic tobacco plants. To enhance the accumulation of scFv protein, the codon-usage of a murine hybridoma-derived scFv gene was adjusted to mimic highly expressed tobacco genes and fused to an elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) tag. This scFv–ELP fusion accumulated up to 0.8% of total soluble leaf protein in transgenic tobacco. To recover scFv–ELP protein from the leaf extract, a simple and scalable purification strategy was established. Purified scFv–ELP fusion was cleaved to separate the scFv portion. Finally, it was shown that the purified scFv proteins retained their capacity to bind the FMDV in the absence or presence of ELP fusion.


Foot-and-mouth disease, FMD Elastin-like polypeptide, ELP Single chain variable antibody fragment, scFv Codon optimization Transgenic tobacco