Immunogenicity of recombinant hepatitis B virus surface antigen fused with preS1 epitopes expressed in rice seeds
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To test the possibility of producing a novel hepatitis B vaccine in plants, the modified hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen (HBsAg) gene SS1 was expressed in rice under the control of the seed-specific Glub-4 promoter. The SS1 gene encodes a fusion protein consisting of amino acids 21–47 of the hepatocyte receptor-binding presurface 1 region (preS1) fused to the truncated C-terminus of the major HBV surface (S) protein. The production of antibodies against the preS1 region acts to protect humans against HBV infection by preventing HBV from binding to hepatocytes. The presence of SS1 in the genome of transgenic rice was confirmed by PCR and Southern blot analysis, and RNA dot blot analysis indicated that the fused SS1 gene was specifically expressed in rice seeds, with the highest expression level being about 31.5 ng/g dry weight grain. Western blot analysis revealed that the recombinant SS1 protein could be specifically recognized by both an anti-S protein antibody and an anti-preS1 antibody. The recombinant SS1 protein was also observed to form virus-like particles with a diameter of about 22 nm and a density of 1.25 g cm−3. Furthermore, immunological responses against both the S and preS1 epitopes were induced in BALB/c mice immunized with the recombinant SS1 protein, indicating that this rice-derived SS1 protein could be a promising candidate as an alternative HBV vaccine for preventing hepatitis B.
KeywordsImmunogenicity Transgenic rice Hepatitis B virus Recombinant SS1 protein Vaccine
This work was supported by the National Key Basic Research Developments Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology, People’s Republic of China (2006CB101700) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (30600347).
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