Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Infection of soybean (Glycine max) plants inoculated with particles of Alfalfa mosaic virus (AlMV) isolate 425 at 12 days after germination was monitored throughout the life cycle of the plant (vegetative growth, flowering, seed formation, and seed maturation) by western blot analysis of tissue samples. At 8 to 10 days after inoculation, the upper uninoculated leaves showed symptoms of virus infection and accumulation of viral coat protein (CP). Virus CP was detectable in leaves, stem, roots, seedpods, and seed coat up to 45 days postinoculation (dpi), but only in the seedpod and seed coat at 65 dpi. No virus accumulation was detected in embryos and cotyledons at any time during infection, and no seed transmission of virus was observed. Soybean plants inoculated with recombinant AlMV passaged from upper uninoculated leaves of infected plants showed accumulation of full-length chimeric AlMV CP containing rabies antigen in systemically infected leaves and seed coat. These results suggest the potential usefulness of plants and plant viruses as vehicles for producing proteins of biomedical importance in a safe and inexpensive manner. Moreover, even the soybean seed coat, treated as waste tissue during conventional processing for oil and other products, may be utilized for the expression of value-added proteins.