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    Molecular farming in plants is an emerging platform for the production of pharmaceutical proteins, and host species such as tobacco are now becoming competitive with commercially established production hosts based on bacteria and mammalian cell lines. The range of recombinant therapeutic proteins produced in plants includes replacement enzymes, vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). But plants can also be used to manufacture toxins, such as the mistletoe lectin viscumin, providing an opportunity to express active antibody-toxin fusion proteins, so-called recombinant immunotoxins (RITs). Mammalian production systems are currently used to produce antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), which require the separate expression and purification of each component followed by a complex and hazardous coupling procedure. In contrast, RITs made in plants are expressed in a single step and could therefore reduce production and purification costs. The costs can be reduced further if subcellular compartments that accumulate large quantities of the stable protein are identified and optimal plant growth conditions are selected. In this review, we first provide an overview of the current state of RIT production in plants before discussing the three key components of RITs in detail. The specificity-defining domain (often an antibody) binds cancer cells, including solid tumors and hematological malignancies. The toxin provides the means to kill target cells. Toxins from different species with different modes of action can be used for this purpose. Finally, the linker spaces the two other components to ensure they adopt a stable, functional conformation, and may also promote toxin release inside the cell. Given the diversity of these components, we extract broad principles that can be used as recommendations for the development of effective RITs. Future research should focus on such proteins to exploit the advantages of plants as efficient production platforms for targeted anti-cancer therapeutics. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    M Knödler, J F Buyel. Plant-made immunotoxin building blocks: A roadmap for producing therapeutic antibody-toxin fusions. Biotechnology advances. 2021 Mar-Apr;47:107683

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    PMID: 33373687

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