Expression of the rabies virus glycoprotein in transgenic tomatoes

Peter B. McGarvey, John Hammond, Margaret M. Dienelt, D. Craig Hooper, Zhen Fang Fu, Bernhard Dietzschold, Hilary Koprowski, Frank H. Michaels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


We have engineered tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill var. UC82b) to express a gene for the glycoprotein (G-protein), which coats the outer surface of the rabies virus. The recombinant constructs contained the G-protein gene from the ERA strain of rabies virus, including the signal peptide, under the control of the 35S promoter of cauliflower mosaic virus. Plants were transformed by Agrobacterium tumefaciens -mediated transformation of cotyledons and tissue culture on selective media. PCR confirmed the presence of the G-protein gene in plants surviving selection. Northern blot analysis indicated that RNA of the appropriate molecular weight was produced in both leaves and fruit of the transgenic plants. The recombinant G-protein was immunoprecipitated and detected by Western blot from leaves and fruit using different antisera. The G-protein expressed in tomato appeared as two distinct bands with apparent molecular mass of 62 and 60 kDa as compared to the 66 kDa observed for G-protein from virus grown in BHK cells. Electron microscopy of leaf tissue using immunogold-labeling and antisera specific for rabies G-protein showed localization of the G-protein to the Golgi bodies, vesicles, plasmalemma and cell walls of vascular parenchyma cells. In light of our previous demonstration that orally administered rabies G-protein from the same ERA strain elicits protective immunity in animals, these transgenic plants should provide a valuable tool for the development of edible oral vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484-1487
Number of pages4
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of the rabies virus glycoprotein in transgenic tomatoes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this