Crop Biotech Update

Protein for Treatment of Cocaine Abuse Expressed in Tobacco Leaves

October 26, 2016

A recently reported cocaine hydrolase (CocH3) fused with fragment crystallizable (Fc) region of human immunoglobulin G1, denoted as CocH3-Fc, is a promising therapeutic candidate for the treatment of cocaine overdose and addiction. However, large-scale protein production of this enzyme is still lacking. Therefore, researchers from the University of Kentucky in the USA, led by Guojun Wang, try to identify a low-cost and feasible, sustainable source of CocH3-Fc.

The team expressed CocH3-Fc in Nicotiana benthamiana (tobacco) leaves. The plant-expressed protein, denoted as pCocH3-Fc, was found to be as active as that expressed in mammalian cells. However, compared to the mammalian-cell expressed CocH3-Fc, pCocH3-Fc had a shorter half-life. The fusion with Fc did not prolong the half-life of pCocH3-Fc, however, it increased the yield of the enzyme plant expression under the same conditions.

This study proves the feasibility of expressing pCocH3-Fc in plants. The team also suggests that further studies on the pCocH3-Fc production in plants should focus on the development of vectors with additional genes/promoters improve the quality and yield.

For more on this study, read the article in BMC Biotechnology.