Induction of a protective antibody response to FMDV in mice following oral immunization with transgenic Stylosanthes spp. as a feedstuff additive

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The expression of antigens in transgenic plants has increasingly been used as an alternative to the classical methodologies for the development of experimental vaccines, and it remains one of the real challenges in this field to use transgenic plant-based vaccines effectively as feedstuff additives. We report herein the development of a new oral immunization system for foot and mouth disease with the structural protein VP1 of the foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) produced in transgenic Stylosanthes guianensis cv. Reyan II. The transgenic plantlets were identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Southern blotting, and northern blotting; and the production of VP1 protein in transgenic plants was confirmed and quantified by western blotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Six transformed lines were obtained, and the level of the expressed protein was 0.1–0.5% total soluble protein (TSP). Mice that were orally immunized using studded feedstuff mixed with desiccated powder of the transgenic plants developed a virus-specific immune response to the structural VP1 and intact FMDV particles. To our knowledge, this is the first report of transgenic plants expressing the antigen protein of FMDV as feedstuff additives that has demonstrated the induction of a protective systemic antibody response in animals. These results support the feasibility of producing edible vaccines from transgenic forage plants, and provide proof of the possibility of using plant-based vaccines as feedstuff additives.

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