Plant viral vectors for delivery by Agrobacterium

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2014:375:155-92. doi: 10.1007/82_2013_352.


Plant viral vectors delivered by Agrobacterium are the basis of several manufacturing processes that are currently in use for producing a wide range of proteins for multiple applications, including vaccine antigens, antibodies, protein nanoparticles such as virus-like particles (VLPs), and other protein and protein-RNA scaffolds. Viral vectors delivered by agrobacterial T-DNA transfer (magnifection) have also become important tools in research. In recent years, essential advances have been made both in the development of second-generation vectors designed using the 'deconstructed virus' approach, as well as in the development of upstream manufacturing processes that are robust and fully scalable. The strategy relies on Agrobacterium as a vector to deliver DNA copies of one or more viral RNA/DNA replicons; the bacteria are delivered into leaves by vacuum infiltration, and the viral machinery takes over from the point of T-DNA transfer to the plant cell nucleus, driving massive RNA and protein production and, if required, cell-to-cell spread of the replicons. Among the most often used viral backbones are those of the RNA viruses Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), Potato virus X (PVX) and Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV), and the DNA geminivirus Bean yellow dwarf virus. Prototypes of industrial processes that provide for high yield, rapid scale up and fast manufacturing cycles have been designed, and several GMP-compliant and GMP-certified manufacturing facilities are in place. These efforts have been successful as evidenced by the fact that several antibodies and vaccine antigens produced by magnifection are currently in clinical development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agrobacterium / genetics*
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Glycosylation
  • Plant Viruses / genetics*
  • Replicon