Production in B. subtilis of hepatitis B core antigen and of major antigen of foot and mouth disease virus


Although Escherichia coli has generally been used as the host for expressing cloned genes, there may be advantages in using other bacteria, such as Bacillus subtilis, for making viral or eukaryotic polypeptides. B. subtilis is a non-pathogenic Grampositive bacterium which, unlike E. coli, does not produce endotoxins and excretes several extracellular proteins in large amounts. Strains of Bacillus are widely used commercially for producing enzymes and antibiotics, and B. subtilis (natto) is used in Japan as a source of food for human consumption. Existing methods for large-scale growth of B. subtilis and for isolating proteins from such cultures may be useful for making viral or eukaryotic polypeptides from Bacillus strains containing cloned DNA. We describe here how proteins cross-reacting with antibodies against either the core antigen of hepatitis B virus (HBV) or the major antigen (VP1) of foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) can be made in B. subtilis when the appropriate viral gene is inserted into a suitable plasmid vector.

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