Prevention of bubonic and pneumonic plague using plant-derived vaccines.

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Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of bubonic and pneumonic plague, is an extremely virulent bacterium but there are currently no approved vaccines for protection against this organism. Plants represent an economical and safer alternative to fermentation-based expression systems for the production of therapeutic proteins. The recombinant plague vaccine candidates produced in plants are based on the two most immunogenic antigens of Y. pestis: the fraction-1 capsular antigen (F1) and the low calcium response virulent antigen (V) either in combination or as a fusion protein (F1-V). These antigens have been expressed in plants using all three known possible strategies: nuclear transformation, chloroplast transformation and plant-virus-based expression vectors. These plant-derived plague vaccine candidates were successfully tested in animal models using parenteral, oral, or prime/boost immunization regimens. This review focuses on the recent research accomplishments towards the development of safe and effective pneumonic and bubonic plague vaccines using plants as bioreactors.

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