Production of Japanese Encephalitis Virus Antigens in Plants Using Bamboo Mosaic Virus-Based Vector
The potexvirus Potato virus X (PVX) can be modified genetically to generate chimeric virus particles (CVPs) carrying heterologous peptides fused to coat protein (CP) subunits. A spontaneous PVX mutant expressing a truncated, but functional, form of the CP has been isolated. With the aim of exploiting this virus to display peptides useful for vaccine formulations, two novel viral expression vectors based on pPVX201 (bearing the wild-type PVX genome) were constructed encoding the truncated CP. Both vectors were able to produce infectious virus particles in planta and were used to insert a panel of sequences encoding peptides of biopharmaceutical interest as N-terminal fusions to the truncated cp gene. The analysis of infection progression induced by the different constructs enabled identification of two important structural features of the fused peptide, namely tryptophan content and isoelectric point, critically affecting the formation of PVX CVPs and virus movement through the plant. These results are discussed in view of the rising interest in engineered plant viruses for development of peptide-based epitope vaccines.