Xu Wang1,†,§, Alexei I. Prokhnevsky2,§, Marina Skarjinskaia2, Md Abdur Razzak1, Stephen J. Streatfield2 and Jung-Youn Lee1,3,4,*
1Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware, Delaware, Newark, USA
2Fraunhofer USA Inc., Center Mid-Atlantic, Biotechnology Division, Delaware, Newark, USA
3Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Delaware, Delaware, Newark, USA
4Delaware Biotechnology Institute, University of Delaware, Delaware, Newark, USA
*Correspondence: Jung-Youn Lee
†Present address: Department of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, University of Hohenheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Stuttgart,Germany
§These authors contributed equally.
Molecular farming technology using transiently transformed Nicotiana plants offers an economical approach to the pharmaceutical industry to produce an array of protein targets including vaccine antigens and therapeutics. It can serve as a desirable alternative approach for those proteins that are challenging or too costly to produce in large quantities using other heterologous protein expression systems. However, since cost metrics are such a critical factor in selecting a production host, any system-wide modifications that can increase recombinant protein yields are key to further improving the platform and making it applicable for a wider range of target molecules. Here, we report on the development of a new approach to improve target accumulation in an established plant-based expression system that utilizes viral-based vectors to mediate transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana. We show that by engineering the host plant to support viral vectors to spread more effectively between host cells through plasmodesmata, protein target accumulation can be increased by up to approximately 60%.