To document

Abstract

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection can be prevented by vaccination. Vaccines containing the small (S)envelope protein are currently used in universal vaccination programs and achieve protective immuneresponse in more than 90% of recipients. However, new vaccination strategies are necessary for successfulimmunization of the remaining non- or low-responders. We have previously characterized a novel HBVchimeric antigen, which combines neutralization epitopes of the S and the preS1 domain of the large (L)envelope protein (genotype D). The S/preS121–47chimera produced in mammalian cells and Nicotianabenthamiana plants, induced a significantly stronger immune response in parenterally vaccinated micethan the S protein. Here we describe the transient expression of the S/preS121–47antigen in an edibleplant, Lactuca sativa, for potential development of an oral HBV vaccine. Our study shows that oral admin-istration of adjuvant-free Lactuca sativa expressing the S/preS121–47antigen, three times, at 1lg/dose,was sufficient to trigger a humoral immune response in mice. Importantly, the elicited antibodies wereable to neutralize HBV infection in an NTCP-expressing infection system (HepG2-NTCP cell line) moreefficiently than those induced by mice fed on Lactuca sativa expressing the S protein. These results sup-port the S/preS121–47antigen as a promising candidate for future development as an edible HBV vaccine.

To document

Abstract

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major etiologic agent for severe liver diseases ( e.g . cirrhosis, fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma). Approximately 140 million people have chronic HCV infections and about 500 000 die yearly from HCV-related liver pathologies. To date, there is no licensed vaccine available to prevent HCV infection and production of a HCV vaccine remains a major challenge. Here, we report the successful production of the HCV E1E2 heterodimer, an important vaccine candidate, in an edible crop (lettuce, Lactuca s ativa ) using Agrobacterium - mediated transient expression technology. The wild-type dimer (E1E2) and a variant without an N-glycosylation site in the E2 polypeptide (E1E2 Δ N6) were expressed, and appropriate N-glycosylation pattern and functionality of the E1E2 dimers were demonstrated. The humoral immune response induced by the HCV proteins was investigated in mice following oral administration of lettuce antigens with or without previous intramuscular prime with the mammalian HEK293T cell-expressed HCV dimer. Immunization by oral feeding only resulted in development of weak serum levels of anti-HCV IgM for both antigens; however, the E1E2 Δ N6 proteins produced higher amounts of secretory IgA, suggesting improved immunogenic properties of the N-glycosylation mutant. The mice group receiving the intramuscular injection followed by two oral boosts with the lettuce E1E2 dimer developed a systemic but also a mucosal immune response, as demonstrated by the presence of anti-HCV secretory IgA in faeces extracts. In summary, our study demonstrates the feasibility of producing complex viral antigens in lettuce, using plant transient expression technology, with great potential for future low-cost oral vaccine development.