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Efficient production of antifungal proteins in plants using a new transient expression vector derived from tobacco mosaic virus

AuthorsShi, Xiaoqing; Cordero, Teresa; Garrigues, Sandra; Marcos López, José Francisco ; Daròs Arnau, José Antonio ; Coca, María
KeywordsAntifungal proteins
Gibson assembl
Nicotiana benthamiana
Plant biofactory
Tobacco mosaic virus
Viral vector
Issue DateJun-2019
CitationPlant Biotechnology Journal 109(6): 1069-1080 (2018)
AbstractFungi that infect plants, animals or humans pose a serious threat to human health and food security. Antifungal proteins (AFPs) secreted by filamentous fungi are promising biomolecules that could be used to develop new antifungal therapies in medicine and agriculture. They are small highly stable proteins with specific potent activity against fungal pathogens. However, their exploitation requires efficient, sustainable and safe production systems. Here, we report the development of an easy‐to‐use, open access viral vector based on Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). This new system allows the fast and efficient assembly of the open reading frames of interest in small intermediate entry plasmids using the Gibson reaction. The manipulated TMV fragments are then transferred to the infectious clone by a second Gibson assembly reaction. Recombinant proteins are produced by agroinoculating plant leaves with the resulting infectious clones. Using this simple viral vector, we have efficiently produced two different AFPs in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, namely the Aspergillus giganteus AFP and the Penicillium digitatum AfpB. We obtained high protein yields by targeting these bioactive small proteins to the apoplastic space of plant cells. However, when AFPs were targeted to intracellular compartments, we observed toxic effects in the host plants and undetectable levels of protein. We also demonstrate that this production system renders AFPs fully active against target pathogens, and that crude plant extracellular fluids containing the AfpB can protect tomato plants from Botrytis cinerea infection, thus supporting the idea that plants are suitable biofactories to bring these antifungal proteins to the market.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/pbi.13038
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