Plants provide not only food and feed, but also herbal medicines and various raw materials for industry. Moreover, plants can be green factories producing high value bioproducts such as biopharmaceuticals and vaccines. Advantages of plant-based production platforms include easy scale-up, cost effectiveness, and high safety as plants are not hosts for human and animal pathogens. Plant cells perform many post-translational modifications that are present in humans and animals and can be essential for biological activity of produced recombinant proteins. Stimulated by progress in plant transformation technologies, substantial efforts have been made in both the public and the private sectors to develop plant-based vaccine production platforms. Recent promising examples include plant-made vaccines against COVID-19 and Ebola. The COVIFENZ® COVID-19 vaccine produced in Nicotiana benthamiana has been approved in Canada, and several plant-made influenza vaccines have undergone clinical trials. In this review, we discuss the status of vaccine production in plants and the state of the art in downstream processing according to good manufacturing practice (GMP). We discuss different production approaches, including stable transgenic plants and transient expression technologies, and review selected applications in the area of human and veterinary vaccines. We also highlight specific challenges associated with viral vaccine production for different target organisms, including lower vertebrates (e.g., farmed fish), and discuss future perspectives for the field.
Giant panda could have bamboo as their exclusive diet for about 2 million years because of the contribution of numerous enzymes produced by their gut bacteria, for instance laccases. Laccases are blue multi-copper oxidases that catalyze the oxidation of a broad spectrum of phenolic and aromatic compounds with water as the only byproduct. As a “green enzyme,” laccases have potential in industrial applications, for example, when dealing with degradation of recalcitrant biopolymers, such as lignin. In the current study, a bacterial laccase, Lac51, originating from Pseudomonas putida and identified in the gut microbiome of the giant panda’s gut was transiently expressed in the non-food plant Nicotiana benthamiana and characterized. Our results show that recombinant Lac51 exhibits bacterial laccase properties, with optimal pH and temperature at 7–8 and 40°C, respectively, when using syringaldazine as substrate. Moreover, we demonstrate the functional capability of the plant expressed Lac51 to oxidize lignin using selected lignin monomers that serve as substrates of Lac51. In summary, our study demonstrates the potential of green and non-food plants as a viable enzyme production platform for bacterial laccases. This result enriches our understanding of plant-made enzymes, as, to our knowledge, Lac51 is the first functional recombinant laccase produced in plants.
Cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS) is a severe cardiac disease occurring in the grow-out sea phase of farmed Atlantic salmon with approximately 100 outbreaks annually in Norway. Piscine myocarditis virus (PMCV) is believed to be the causative agent of CMS. There is no vaccine available to control CMS, partially because PMCV withstands propagation in known cell cultures. In the present study, we selected the putative capsid protein of PMCV as the candidate antigen for immunization experiments and produced it in the plant Nicotiana benthamiana by transient expression. The recombinant PMCV antigen formed virus-like particles (VLPs). To evaluate the efficacy of the plant made VLP vaccine, a PMCV infection model was established. In an experimental salmon vaccination trial, the VLP vaccine triggered innate immunity, and indicative but not significant inhibition of viral replication in heart, spleen and kidney tissues was observed. Similarly, a reduction of inflammatory lesions in cardiomyocytes and subendocardial infiltration by mononuclear leukocytes were observed. Therefore, there was no difference in efficacy or immune response observed post the plant made PMCV VLP antigen vaccination. Taken together, this study has demonstrated that plant made VLP antigens should be investigated further as a possible platform for the development of PMCV antigens for a CMS vaccine.
Aquaculture has undergone rapid development in the past decades. It provides a large part of high-quality protein food for humans, and thus, a sustainable aquaculture industry is of great importance for the worldwide food supply and economy. Along with the quick expansion of aquaculture, the high fish densities employed in fish farming increase the risks of outbreaks of a variety of aquatic diseases. Such diseases not only cause huge economic losses, but also lead to ecological hazards in terms of pathogen spread to marine ecosystems causing infection of wild fish and polluting the environment. Thus, fish health is essential for the aquaculture industry to be environmentally sustainable and a prerequisite for intensive aquaculture production globally. The wide use of antibiotics and drug residues has caused intensive pollution along with risks for food safety and increasing antimicrobial resistance. Vaccination is the most effective and environmentally friendly approach to battle infectious diseases in aquaculture with minimal ecological impact and is applicable to most species of farmed fish. However, there are only 34 fish vaccines commercially available globally to date, showing the urgent need for further development of fish vaccines to manage fish health and ensure food safety. Plant genetic engineering has been utilized to produce genetically modified crops with desirable characteristics and has also been used for vaccine production, with several advantages including cost-effectiveness, safety when compared with live virus vaccines, and plants being capable of carrying out posttranslational modifications that are similar to naturally occurring systems. So far, plant-derived vaccines, antibodies, and therapeutic proteins have been produced for human and animal health. However, the development of plant-made vaccines for animals, especially fish, is still lagging behind the development of human vaccines. The present review summarizes the development of fish vaccines currently utilized and the suitability of the plant-production platform for fish vaccine and then addresses considerations regarding fish vaccine production in plants. Developing fish vaccines by way of plant biotechnology are significant for the aquaculture industry, fish health management, food safety, and human health.
Diseases caused by viruses threaten the production industry and food safety of aquaculture which is a great animal protein source. Grass carp reovirus (GCRV) has caused tremendous loss, and the molecular function of viral proteins during infection needs further research, as for most aquatic viruses. In this study, interaction between GCRV major outer capsid protein VP4 and RIG-I, a critical viral RNA sensor, was screened out by GST pull-down, endogenous immunoprecipitation and subsequent LC-MS/MS, and then verified by co-IP and an advanced farred fluorescence complementation system. VP4 was proved to bind to the CARD and RD domains of RIG-I and promoted K48-linked ubiquitination of RIG-I to degrade RIG-I. VP4 reduced mRNA and promoter activities of key genes of RLR pathway and sequential IFN production. As a consequence, antiviral effectors were suppressed and GCRV replication increased, resulting in intensified cytopathic effect. Furthermore, results of transcriptome sequencing of VP4 stably expressed CIK (C. idella kidney) cells indicated that VP4 activated the MyD88-dependent TLR pathway. Knockdown of VP4 obtained opposite effects. These results collectively revealed that VP4 interacts with RIG-I to restrain interferon response and assist GCRV invasion. This study lays the foundation for anti-dsRNA virus molecular function research in teleost and provides a novel insight into the strategy of immune evasion for aquatic virus.
Full title: Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project Collaborative Project Systematic detection and mitigation of antimicrobial resistance in soil environment and animal health contributing to human health (SiNorAMR)
Healthy feed to healthy aquatic food via Sino-Norwegian cooperation- Feed2Food
The project is at the forefront of scientific research in utilizing molecular, physiological and high advanced methodology to quantify the challenges with feed additives in combination with high fat diets (HFD).
Sinograin III: Smart agricultural technology and waste-made biochar for food security, reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, and bio-and circular economy
The Sinograin III project’s overall objective is to contribute to the UN SDGs by widely implementing precision agriculture technologies and application of “waste-to-value” biochar products to achieve sustainable food production with minimized GHG emission, improve soil fertility and promote green growth/zero waste in modern agriculture in China.