High-Yield Expression of M2e Peptide of Avian Influenza Virus H5N1 in Transgenic Duckweed Plants

Aleksey Firsov*, Irina Tarasenko, Tatiana Mitiouchkina, Natalya Ismailova, Lyubov Shaloiko, Alexander Vainstein, Sergey Dolgov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Avian influenza is a major viral disease in poultry. Antigenic variation of this virus hinders vaccine development. However, the extracellular domain of the virus-encoded M2 protein (peptide M2e) is nearly invariant in all influenza A strains, enabling the development of a broad-range vaccine against them. Antigen expression in transgenic plants is becoming a popular alternative to classical expression methods. Here we expressed M2e from avian influenza virus A/chicken/Kurgan/5/2005(H5N1) in nuclear-transformed duckweed plants for further development of avian influenza vaccine. The N-terminal fragment of M2, including M2e, was selected for expression. The M2e DNA sequence fused in-frame to the 5′ end of β-glucuronidase was cloned into pBI121 under the control of CaMV 35S promoter. The resulting plasmid was successfully used for duckweed transformation, and western analysis with anti-β-glucuronidase and anti-M2e antibodies confirmed accumulation of the target protein (M130) in 17 independent transgenic lines. Quantitative ELISA of crude protein extracts from these lines showed M130–β-glucuronidase accumulation ranging from 0.09–0.97 mg/g FW (0.12–1.96 % of total soluble protein), equivalent to yields of up to 40 μg M2e/g plant FW. This relatively high yield holds promise for the development of a duckweed-based expression system to produce an edible vaccine against avian influenza.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)653-661
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Biotechnology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Avian influenza
  • Duckweed
  • Peptide M2e
  • Plant-based vaccine
  • Recombinant protein
  • Transgenic plant
  • β-Glucuronidase


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