Humanization and expression of IgG and IgM antibodies in plants as potential diagnostic reagents for Valley Fever

Collin Jugler, Francisca J. Grill, Lukas Eidenberger, Timothy L. Karr, Thomas E. Grys, Herta Steinkellner, Douglas F. Lake, Qiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are important proteins used in many life science applications, from diagnostics to therapeutics. High demand for mAbs for different applications urges the development of rapid and reliable recombinant production platforms. Plants provide a quick and inexpensive system for producing recombinant mAbs. Moreover, when paired with an established platform for mAb discovery, plants can easily be tailored to produce mAbs of different isotypes against the same target. Here, we demonstrate that a hybridoma-generated mouse mAb against chitinase 1 (CTS1), an antigen from Coccidioides spp., can be biologically engineered for use with serologic diagnostic test kits for coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) using plant expression. The original mouse IgG was modified and recombinantly produced in glycoengineered Nicotiana benthamiana plants via transient expression as IgG and IgM isotypes with human kappa, gamma, and mu constant regions. The two mAb isotypes produced in plants were shown to maintain target antigen recognition to CTS1 using similar reagents as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Valley Fever diagnostic kits. As none of the currently approved kits provide antibody dilution controls, humanization of antibodies that bind to CTS1, a major component of the diagnostic antigen preparation, may provide a solution to the lack of consistently reactive antibody controls for Valley Fever diagnosis. Furthermore, our work provides a foundation for reproducible and consistent production of recombinant mAbs engineered to have a specific isotype for use in diagnostic assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number925008
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Sep 2 2022


  • IgG
  • IgM
  • Valley Fever (VF)
  • coccidioidomycosis
  • diagnostics
  • humanization
  • plant-made diagnostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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