Expression of the Newcastle disease virus fusion protein in transgenic maize and immunological studies

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Transgenic plants have been employed successfully as a low-cost system for the production of therapeutically valuable proteins, including antibodies, antigens and hormones. Here, we report the expression of the fusion (F) gene of the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) in transgenic maize plants. The expression of the transgene, driven by the maize ubiquitin promoter, caused accumulation of the F protein in maize kernels. The presence of the transgene was verified by Southern and western blots. Feeding chickens with kernels containing the F protein induced the production of antibodies, which conferred protection against a viral challenge. This protection was comparable to that conferred by a commercial vaccine. Possible uses of this plant-based F protein as a potential mucosal vaccine are discussed.

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