Neutralizing immunogenicity of transgenic carrot (Daucus carota L.)-derived measles virus hemagglutinin

E. Marquet-Blouin, F. B. Bouche, A. Steinmetz, C. P. Muller

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Although edible vaccines seem to be feasible, antigens of human pathogens have mostly been expressed in plants that are not attractive for human consumption (such as potatoes) unless they are cooked. Boiling may reduce the immunogenicity of many antigens. More recently, the technology to transform fruit and vegetable plants have become perfected. We transformed carrot plants with Agrobacterium tumefaciens to generate plants (which can be eaten raw) transgenic for an immunodominant antigen of the measles virus, a major pathogen in man. The hemagglutinin (H) glycoprotein is the principle target of neutralizing and protective antibodies against measles. Copy numbers of the H transgene were verified by Southern blot and specific transcription was confirmed by RT-PCR. The H protein was detected by western blot in the membrane fraction of transformed carrot plants. The recombinant protein seemed to have a 8% lower molecular weight than the viral protein. Although this suggests a different glycosylation pattern, proper folding of the transgenic protein was confirmed by conformational-dependent monoclonal antibodies. Immunization of mice with leaf or root extracts induced high titres of IgG1 and IgG2a antibodies that cross-reacted strongly with the measles virus and neutralized the virus in vitro. These results demonstrate that transgenic carrot plants can be used as an efficient expression system to produce highly immunogenic viral antigens. Our study may pave the way towards an edible vaccine against measles which could be complementary to the current live-attenuated vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Carrots
  • Daucus carota
  • Hemagglutinin protein
  • Measles virus
  • Neutralization
  • Vaccine


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