UMMS Affiliation

Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Immunology and Infectious Disease | Microbiology | Plant Sciences | Virus Diseases


West Nile virus (WNV) is a globally disseminated Flavivirus that is associated with encephalitis outbreaks in humans and horses. The continuous global outbreaks of West Nile disease in the bird, human, and horse populations, with no preventative measures for humans, pose a major public health threat. The development of a vaccine that contributes to the "One Health" Initiative could be the answer to prevent the spread of the virus and control human and animal disease. The current commercially available veterinary vaccines are generally costly and most require high levels of biosafety for their manufacture. Consequently, we explored making a particulate vaccine candidate made transiently in plants as a more cost-effective and safer means of production. A WNV virus-like particle-display-based vaccine candidate was generated by the use of the SpyTag/SpyCatcher (ST/SC) conjugation system. The WNV envelope protein domain III (EDIII), which contains WNV-specific epitopes, was fused to and displayed on AP205 phage virus-like particles (VLPs) following the production of both separately in Nicotiana benthamiana. Co-purification of AP205 and EDIII genetically fused to ST and SC, respectively, resulted in the conjugated VLPs displaying EDIII with an average coupling efficiency of 51%. Subcutaneous immunisation of mice with 5 mug of purified AP205: EDIII VLPs elicited a potent IgG response to WNV EDIII. This study presents the potential plants being used as biofactories for making significant pharmaceutical products for the "One Health" Initiative and could be used to address the need for their local production in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).


Nicotiana benthamiana, SpyTag/SpyCatcher, West Nile virus, envelope protein domain III, virus-like particle

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Copyright © 2021 Stander, Chabeda, Rybicki and Meyers. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Stander J, Chabeda A, Rybicki EP, Meyers AE. A Plant-Produced Virus-Like Particle Displaying Envelope Protein Domain III Elicits an Immune Response Against West Nile Virus in Mice. Front Plant Sci. 2021 Sep 13;12:738619. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.738619. PMID: 34589108; PMCID: PMC8475786. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in plant science

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.