Plant Biotechnology Journal
Pandemics in poultry caused by the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A virus occur too frequently globally, and there is growing concern about the HPAI A virus due to the possibility of a pandemic among humans. Thus, it is important to develop a vaccine against HPAI suitable for both humans and animals. Various approaches are underway to develop such vaccines. In particular, an edible vaccine would be a convenient way to vaccinate poultry because of the behaviour of the animals. However, an edible vaccine is still not available. In this study, we developed a strategy of effective vaccination of mice by the oral administration of transgenic Arabidopsis plants (HA-TG) expressing haemagglutinin (HA) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Expression of HA in the ER resulted in its high-level accumulation, N-glycosylation, protection from proteolytic degradation and long-term stability. Oral administration of HA-TG with saponin elicited high levels of HA-specific systemic IgG and mucosal IgA responses in mice, which resulted in protection against a lethal influenza virus infection with attenuated inflammatory symptoms. Based on these results, we propose that oral administration of freeze-dried leaf powders from transgenic plants expressing HA in the ER together with saponin is an attractive strategy for vaccination against influenza A virus.