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Plant-Produced Recombinant Human Interleukin-2 and Its Activity against Splenic CD4 + T-Cells

Jason D. Matakas 1, Venkatesh Balan 2, William F Carson IV 3, Dahai Gao 2, Federica Brandizzi 4, and Steven Kunkel 3, and Mariam Sticklen1
1. Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, 361 Plant Soil Sciences Building, East Lansing, MI 48824.
2. Biomass Conversion Research Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science, Michigan State University, 3815 Technology Blvd. Lansing MI 48910.
3. Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, 109 Zina Pitcher Place, 4710 BSRB, Box 2200, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
4. Plant Biology Department, 206 Plant Biology Laboratories, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
Abstract—Recombinant human interleukin-2 (rhIL-2) is a biopharmaceutical protein of great importance, as it is the standard FDA-approved immunotherapeutic treatment for end-stage metastatic melanoma and renal cell cancer. In this study, we explored the feasibility of producing biologically active rhIL- 2 in the green tissues of transgenic tobacco ( Nicotiana benthamiana ).Production of rhIL-2 proteins in whole-plant expression system will be more economical when compared to the current E. coli based expression system. The human rhIL-2 gene was codon optimized to maximize plant host system expression. A construct fusing red fluorescent protein to rhIL-2 was developed, and confocal microscopy was utilized to verify the targeted rhIL-2 accumulation, and its proper folding in this system. Five additional plant-specific transgene constructs were developed for stable expression rhIL-2 with targeting to each sub-cellular compartment. Western blotting of the stably transformed lines demonstrated accumulation of the appropriately sized rhIL-2 protein in the endoplasmic reticulum and chloroplasts. The plant-produced rhIL-2 was purified, and its biological activity was compared with that of commercially available E. coli produced rhIL-2 on murine splenic CD4+ T- cells from C57BL/6 mice. This research demonstrated the efficacy of using tobacco as an expression system for the production of biologically active rhIL-2.

Index Terms—Recombinant DNA Technology, Biopharmaceutical Production, Interleukin-2, Tobacco plant

Cite: Jason D. Matakas, Venkatesh Balan, William F Carson IV, Dahai Gao, Federica Brandizzi, Steven Kunkel, and Mariam Sticklen, "Plant-Produced Recombinant Human Interleukin-2 and Its Activity against Splenic CD4 + T-Cells," International Journal of Life Sciences Biotechnology and Pharma Research, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 192-203, April 2013.
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