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Efficient transient expression of human GM-CSF protein in Nicotiana benthamiana using potato virus X vector

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The human granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is a glycoprotein with important clinical applications for the treatment of neutropenia and aplastic anemia and reducing infections associated with bone marrow transplants. We evaluated the potential for using a potato virus X (PVX) viral vector system for efficient expression of the biologically functional GM-CSF protein in Nicotianabenthamiana leaves. The GM-CSF gene was cloned into PVX viral expression vector, driven with the CaMV 35S promoter. Gene transfer was accomplished by inoculating N. benthamiana leaves with the plasmid DNA of PVX vector containing the GM-CSF gene. The expression level of the recombinant GM-CSF protein was determined with ELISA and its size was confirmed by Western blot analysis. The results showed that: (1) leaf age significantly affects GM-CSF protein concentration with younger leaves accumulating 19.8 mg g−1 soluble protein which is 2.6 times the concentration in older leaves, (2) recombinant protein accumulation within a given leaf declined slightly over time but was not significantly different between 7 and 11 days post-inoculation (dpi), and (3) the two leaves immediately above the inoculated leaves play an important role for GM-CSF accumulation in the younger leaves. Protein extracts of infected N. benthamiana leaves contained recombinant human GM-CSF protein in concentrations of up to 2% of total soluble protein, but only when the pair of leaves immediately above the inoculated leaves remained intact. The recombinant protein actively stimulated the growth of human TF-1 cells suggesting that the recombinant human GM-CSF expressed via PVX viral vector was biologically active.

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We thank James Lee (Washing State University, Pullman, WA, USA) for providing the pGM-CSF construct and David Baulcombe (John Innes Center, Colney Lane, Norwich, UK) for providing the set of PVX vectors. We also thank Dr. Wayne Borth and John Hu (University of Hawaii) for N. benthamiana seeds.

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Correspondence to Yun J. Zhu.

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Zhou, F., Wang, M., Albert, H.H. et al. Efficient transient expression of human GM-CSF protein in Nicotiana benthamiana using potato virus X vector. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 72, 756–762 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-005-0305-2

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  • Benthamiana Plant
  • Leukine
  • Transform Cell Suspension
  • Transform Cell Suspension Culture
  • Chemiluminescent Immunodetection System