The plantibody approach: expression of antibody genes in plants to modulate plant metabolism or to obtain pathogen resistance
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Immunomodulation is a molecular technique that allows the interference with cellular metabolism or pathogen infectivity by the ectopic expression of genes encoding antibodies or antibody fragments. In recent years, several reports have proven the value of this tool in plant research for modulation of phytohormone activity and for blocking plant-pathogen infection. Efficient application of the plantibody approach requires different levels of investigation. First of all, methods have to be available to clone efficiently the genes coding for antibodies or antibody fragments that bind the target antigen. Secondly, conditions to obtain high accumulation of antigen-binding antibodies and antibody fragments in plants are being investigated and optimized. Thirdly, different strategies are being evaluated to interfere with the function of the target molecule, thus enabling immunomodulation of metabolism or pathogen infectivity. In the near future, optimized antibody gene isolation and expression, especially in reducing subcellular environments, such as the cytosol and nucleus, should turn immunomodulation into a powerful and attractive tool for gene inactivation, complementary to the classical antisense and co-suppression approaches.
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