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1.  Rotavirus A-specific single-domain antibodies produced in baculovirus-infected insect larvae are protective in vivo 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:59.
Background
Single-domain antibodies (sdAbs), also known as nanobodies or VHHs, are characterized by high stability and solubility, thus maintaining the affinity and therapeutic value provided by conventional antibodies. Given these properties, VHHs offer a novel alternative to classical antibody approaches. To date, VHHs have been produced mainly in E. coli, yeast, plants and mammalian cells. To apply the single-domain antibodies as a preventive or therapeutic strategy to control rotavirus infections in developing countries (444,000 deaths in children under 5 years of age) has to be minimized their production costs.
Results
Here we describe the highly efficient expression of functional VHHs by the Improved Baculovirus Expression System (IBES® technology), which uses a baculovirus expression vector in combination with Trichoplusia ni larvae as living biofactories. Two VHHs, named 3B2 and 2KD1, specific for the inner capsid protein VP6 of Group A rotavirus, were expressed in insect larvae. The IBES® technology achieved very high expression of 3B2 and 2KD1, reaching 2.62% and 3.63% of the total soluble protein obtained from larvae, respectively. These expression levels represent up to 257 mg/L of protein extract after insect processing (1 L extract represents about 125 g of insect biomass or about 375 insect larvae). Larva-derived antibodies were fully functional when tested in vitro and in vivo, neutralizing Group A rotaviruses and protecting offspring mice against rotavirus-induced diarrhea.
Conclusions
Our results open up the possibility of using insects as living biofactories (IBES® technology) for the cost-efficient production of these and other fully functional VHHs to be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, thereby eliminating concerns regarding the use of bacterial or mammalian cells. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that insects have been used as living biofactories to produce a VHH molecule.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-12-59
PMCID: PMC3444942  PMID: 22953695
Single-domain antibodies; Therapeutic molecule; Neutralization; Rotavirus A; Insect; Baculovirus; IBES®technology
2.  Are Human P[14] Rotavirus Strains the Result of Interspecies Transmissions from Sheep or Other Ungulates That Belong to the Mammalian Order Artiodactyla?▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(7):2917-2929.
A limited number of human G6P[14] rotavirus strains that cause gastroenteritis in humans have been isolated in Europe and Australia. The complete genome sequences were determined for five of these human strains—B10925-97 (isolated in Belgium in 1997), 111/05-27 (Italy, 2005), PA169 (Italy, 1987), MG6 (Australia, 1993), and Hun5 (Hungary, 1997)—and their genetic relatedness to animal rotavirus strains was evaluated by sequencing the complete genome of the sheep rotavirus OVR762 (G8P[14]; Spain, 2002), the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) rotavirus strains Arg/Chubut/99 and Arg/Río Negro/98 (G8P[14] and G8P[1], respectively; Argentina, 1999 and 1998), the sable antelope strain RC-18/08 (G6P[14]; South Africa, 2008), and the bovine rotavirus strain Arg/B383/98 (G15P[11]; Argentina, 1998). These analyses revealed an overall consensus genomic constellation (G6/G8)-P[14]-I2-(R2/R5)-C2-M2-(A3/A11)-N2-T6-(E2/E12)-H3, together with a few gene reassortments, and the phylogenetic analyses confirmed that the P[14] human strains evaluated in this study were closely related to rotavirus strains isolated from sheep, cattle, goats, guanacos, and antelopes and to rabbits (albeit to a lesser extent), suggesting that one (or more) of these animal species might be the source of the human G6P[14] strains. The main feature of the genotype and phylogenetic analyses was the close overall genomic relatedness between the five human G6P[14] rotavirus strains and the ovine and antelope rotavirus strains. Taken together, these data strongly suggest a common origin for the human P[14] strains and those of the even-toed ungulates belonging to the mammalian order Artiodactyla, with sheep probably playing a key role in the interspecies transmission responsible for the introduction of P[14] rotavirus strains into the human population.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02246-08
PMCID: PMC2655590  PMID: 19153225
3.  Llama-Derived Single-Chain Antibody Fragments Directed to Rotavirus VP6 Protein Possess Broad Neutralizing Activity In Vitro and Confer Protection against Diarrhea in Mice▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(19):9753-9764.
Group A rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhea in human infants and newborn animals. Rotavirus virions are triple-layered particles. The outer capsid proteins VP4 and VP7 are highly variable and represent the major neutralizing antigens. The inner capsid protein VP6 is conserved among group A rotaviruses, is highly immunogenic, and is the target antigen of most immunodiagnosis tests. Llama-derived single-chain antibody fragments (VHH) are the smallest molecules with antigen-binding capacity and can therefore be expected to have properties different from conventional antibodies. In this study a library containing the VHH genes of a llama immunized with recombinant inner capsid protein VP6 was generated. Binders directed to VP6, in its native conformation within the viral particle, were selected and characterized. Four selected VHH directed to conformational epitopes of VP6 recognized all human and animal rotavirus strains tested and could be engineered for their use in immunodiagnostic tests for group A rotavirus detection. Three of the four VHH neutralized rotavirus in vivo independently of the strain serotype. Furthermore, this result was confirmed by in vivo partial protection against rotavirus challenge in a neonatal mouse model. The present study demonstrates for the first time a broad neutralization activity of VP6 specific VHH in vitro and in vivo. Neutralizing VHH directed to VP6 promise to become an essential tool for the prevention and treatment of rotavirus diarrhea.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00436-08
PMCID: PMC2546978  PMID: 18632867

Results 1-3 (3)