Title of Invention

A METHOD OF PRODUCING COLLAGEN OR FIBRILLAR COLLAGEN

Abstract A method of producing collagen in a plant and plants producing collagen are provided. The method is effected by expressing in the plant at least one type of a collagen alpha chain in a manner enabling accumulation of the collagen alpha chain in a subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity, thereby producing the collagen in the plant.
Full Text

COLLAGEN PRODUCING ?;.ANT> AND METHODS OF GENERATING AND
USING SAME
FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invemx* regies K? coliagen producing plants and methods of generating and using same More particularly, the present invention relates to a novel approach tor generating p&nzs capabk of producing high levels of hydroxylated collagen chains which are cafsshse of forming native triple helix type I coliagen fibers.
Collagens are the mam srrucrwaJ proteins responsible for the structural integrity of vertebrates and many od^er multicellular organisms. Type I collagen represents the prototypicaJ fibriBar coliagen and is the major collagen type in most tissues.
Tvrve I collagen is the ;xedommam collagen component of bone and tendon and is found in large amounts in skin, aorta, and lung. Type I collagen fibers provide greai tensile strength and limited extensibility. The most abundant molecular form of type I collagen is a heterotrimer composed of two different alpha chains [alpha 1(I)]2 and alpha 2(1) (Inkinen. 2003:. Ail fibrillar collagen molecules contain three polypeptide chains constructed from 2 repeating Gly-X-Y triplet where X and Y can be any amino acid but are frequently the imino acids proline and hydroxyproline.
Fibril forming collagens are synthesized as precursor procollagens containing globular N- and C-terminal extension propeptides. The biosynthesis of procollagen is a complex process involving 2 number of different post-translational modifications including proline and lysine hyaroxyiation, N-iinked and 0-1 inked glycosylation and both intra- and inter-chain disulphide-bond formation. The enzymes carrying out these modifications act in a coordinated fashion to ensure the folding and assembly of a correctly aligned and thermally stable triple-helical molecule.
Each procollagen molecule assembles within the rough endoplasmic reticulum from the three constituent polypeptide chains. As the polypeptide chain is co-translatibnally translocated across the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum, hydroxylation of proline and lysine residues occurs within the Gly-X-Y repeat region. Once the polypeptide chain is fully translocated into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum the C-propeptide folds. Three pro-alpha chains then associate via their C-propeptides to form a trimeric molecule allowing the Gly-X-Y repeat region to form a

nucieaiion point at its C- *~:~:,r^ end. ensunng correct alignment of the chains. The Gly-X-Y region then folds ^ i r-;e-N direction to form a triple helix.
The temporal relatjc^srur; ber.ve£n polypeptide chain modification and tripie-helix formation is crucial as hydroxytanon of proline residues is required to ensure stability of the triple helix as. oody lesapcT&xxz* once formed, the triple helix no longer serves as a substrate for the h^KiF^yiarioc enzyme. The C-propeptides (and to a lesser extent the N-propeptides) &cec c*e procollagen soluble during its passage through the cell (Bulleid et a!.. 2000), Fo8ewu»g or during secretion of procollagen molecules into the extracellular matrix, praoepckies arc removed by procollagen N- and C-proteinases, thereby triggering spootaneous self-assembly of collagen molecules into fibrils (Hulmes, 2002). Removal of the propeptides by procollagen N- and C-proteinases lowers the solubility of procollagen by > 10000-fold and is necessary and sufficient to initiate the self-assembly of collagen into fibers. Crucial to this assembly process are short non triple-hencal peptides called telopeptides at the ends of the triple-helical domain, which ensure correct registration of the collagen molecules within the fibril structure and lower the critical concentration for self-assembly (Bulleid et al.. 2000). In nature, the stability of the triple-helicai structure of collagen requires the hydroxylation of prolines by the enzyme prolyl-4-hydroxylase (P4H) to form residues of hydroxyproline within a collagen chain.
Plants expressing collages* chains are known in the art. see for example. U.S. Pat. No. 6,617,431 and fMerie et aL 2002. Ruggiero et al., 2000). Although plants are capable of synthesizing hydrcxyprollne-containing proteins the prolyl hydroxylase that is responsible for synthesis of hydroxyproline in plant ceils exhibits relatively loose substrate sequence specificity 2$ compared with mammalian P4H and thus, production of collagen containing hydroxyproline only in the Y position of Gly -X-Y triplets requires plant co-expression of collagen and P4H genes (Olsen et al, 2003).
An attempt to produce human collagens that rely on the hydroxylation machinery naturally present in plants resulted in collagen that is poor in proline hydroxylation (Merle et al.. 2002). Such collagen melts or loses its triple helical structure at temperatures below 30 CC. Co-expression of collagen and prolyl-hydroxylase results with stable hydroxylated collagen that is biologically relevant for applications at body temperatures (Merle et al.. 2002).

Lysyi hydroxylase lir^nsferase Hydroxylysins of a human collagen expressed in tobacco form less than 2 % of the hydroxylysins found in a bovine collagen (0.04 % of residues / i .88 % of residues). This suggests that plant endogenic Lysyi hydroxylase is unable to sufficiently hydroxylate lysines in collagen.
While reducing: the present invention to practice, the present inventors uncovered that efficient hydroxylation of collagen chains relies upon sequestering of the collagen chain along with an enzyme capable of correctly modifying this polypeptide.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of producing collagen in a plant or an isolated plant cell comprising expressing in the plant or the isolated plant cell at least one type of a collagen alpha chain and exogenous P4H in a manner enabling accumulation of the at "least one tvpe of the collagen aipha chain and the exogenous P4H in a subceliuiar compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity, thereby producing the collagen in the plant.
According to an additional aspect of the present invention there is provided According to further features in preferred embodiments of the invention described below, the method further comprises expressing exogenous LH3 in the subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain includes a signal peptide for targeting to an apoplast or a vacuole.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain is devoid of an ER targeting or retention

sequence.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain is expressed in a DNA-coniaining organelle of the plant.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H includes a signal peptide for targeting to an apopiast or a vacuole.
According to still further features in the descnbed preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is devoid of an ER targeting or retention sequence.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is expressed in a DNA-containing organelle of the plant.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain is alpha 1 chain.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain is alpha 2 chain.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain includes a C-terminus and/or an N-terminus propeptide.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the plant is selected from the group consisting of Tobacco. Mai2e, Alfalfa, Rice. Potato, Soybean. Tomato. Wheat Barley. Canoia and Cotton.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain or the exogenous P4H are expressed in only a portion of the plant.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the portion of the plant is leaves, seeds, roots, tubers or stems.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is capable of specifically hydroxylating the Y position of Gly-X-Y triplets of the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is human P4H.
According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the plant is subjected to a stress condition.

According :-..
    According BO another aspect of the present invention there is provided a genetically modified pb&s cr isolated plant cell capable of accumulating a collagen alpha chain having £ hydroxylation pattern identical to that produced when the collagen alpha dsa^ ts expressed m human cells.
    According K yet asother aspect of the present invention there is provided a genetically modified aiant or isolated plant cell capable of accumulating a collagen alpha chain in a sebceOuiar compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity.
    According so sail further features in the described preferred embodiments the genetically modified plant further comprises an exogenous P4H.
    According \c sdti further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain includes a signal peptide for targeting to an apoplast or a vacuole.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain is devoid of an ER targeting or retention sequence.
    According to stili farther features in the described preferred embodiments the at least one type of the collagen aipha chain is expressed in a DNA-containing organelle of the piss.
    According 10 still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H includes a signal peptide for targeting to an apoplast or a vacuole.
    According to still farther features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is devoid of an ER targeting or retention seauence.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is expressed in a DNA-containing organelle of the. plant.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the collagen alpha chain is alpha 1 chain.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the collagen alpha chain is alpha 2 chain.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the collagen alpha chain includes a C-termmus and/or an N-terminus propeptide.

    According to still another aspect of the present invention there is provided a piant system comprising a first genetically modified plant capable of accumulating a collagen alpha I chain and a second genetically modified plant capable of accumulating a collagen alpha 2 chain.
    According to yet another aspect of the present invention there is provided a plant system comprising a first genetically modified plant capable of accumulating a collagen alpha 1 chain and a collagen alpha 2 chain and a second genetically modified plant capable of accumulating P4H.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments at least one of the first genetically modified plant and the second genetically modified plant further comprises exogenous P4H.
    According to yet another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of producing fibrillar collagen comprising: (a) expressing in a first plant a collagen alpha 1 chain; (b) expressing in a second plant a collagen alpha 2 chain. wherein expression in the first plant and the second plant the is configured such that the collagen alpha ] chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain are each capable of accumulating in a subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity; and (c) crossing the first plant and the second plant and selecting progeny expressing the collagen alpha 1 chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain thereby producing fibrillar collagen.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the method further comprises expressing an exogenous P4H in each of the first plant and the second plant.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments each
    of the collagen alpha 1 chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain includes a signal peptide
    for targeting to an apoplast or a vacuole.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments each
    i. of the collagen alpha 1 chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain is devoid of an ER
    targeting or retention sequence.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments
    steps (a) and (b) are effected via expression in a DMA-containing organelle of the
    plant.

    -According to s:il! further features in the described preferred embodiment the exc-g-enous ?4H includes a signal peptide for targeting to an apoplast or a vacuole.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is devoid of an ER targeting or retention sequence.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exoggaous P4H is expressed in a DNA-containing organelle of the plant.
    -Vxofmnf so still further features in the described preferred embodiments each of the collages aipha 1 chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain includes a C-terminus as&iyr ae N-serroinus propeptide.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogcaous P4H is capable of specifically hydroxylating the Y position of Gly-X-Y triplets of the at least one type of the collagen alpha chain.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the exogenous P4H is human P4H.
    According to stil! further features in the described preferred embodiments the first plant and the second plant are subjected to a stress condition.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the stress condition is selected from the group consisting of drought salinity, injury, heavy metal toxicity and cold stress.
    According to yet another aspect of tine present invention there is provided a method of producing fibrillar collagen comprising: (a) expressing in a first plant a co!i2gen alpha i chain and 2 collagen alpha 2 chain, wherein expression in the first plain is configured such that the collagen alpha 1 chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain are each capable of accumulating in a subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity; (b) expressing in a second plant an exogenous P4H capable of accumulating in the subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity; and (c) crossing the first plant and the second plant and selecting progeny expressing the collagen alpha 1 chain, the collagen alpha 2 chain and the P4H thereby producing fibrillar collagen.
    According to yet another aspect of the present invention there is provided a nucleic acid construct comprising a polynucleotide encoding a human P4H positioned under the transcriptional control of a promoter functional in plant ceils.

    According to siil! further features in ih? describee preferred ernbonx^enis the promoter is selected from the group consisting of the CaMY 35> promoter, the Ubiquitm promoter, the rbcS promoter and the SVBV promoter.
    According to yet another aspect of the present invention there rs provided a genetically modified plant or isolated plant cei! being capable of express^ coHascn alpha 1 chain, collagen alpha 2 chain. P4H. LH3 and protease C and/or ppDiease N
    According to still further features in the described preferred enskosisBents the collagen alpha 1 chain and the collagen alpha 2 chain are eacii zapabit of accumulating in a subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous plant P4H acd\ivy.
    According to yet smother aspect of the present invention there is provioed a genetically modified plant or isolated plant cell being capable of accumulating collagen having a temperature stability characteristic identical to thai of mammalian collagen.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the collagen is type I collagen.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the mammalian collagen is human collagen.
    According to yet another aspect of the present invention there is provided a collagen-encoding sequence optimized for expression in a plant.
    According to still further features in the described preferred embodiments the collagen encoding sequence is as set forth by SEQ ID NO:l.
    The present invention successfully addresses the shortcomings of me presently known configurations by providing a plan: capable of expressing correctly hvdroxvlated collagen chains which are capable of assembling into coilaeen having properties similar to that of human collagen.
    Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivaJent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods and materials are described below. In case of conflict, the patent specification, including definitions, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
    The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the preferred embodiments of the present invention only, and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the invention may be embodied in practice.
    tn the drawings;
    FIGs. la-d illustrate construction of various expression cassettes and vectors used to transform test plants. AH of the coding sequences synthesized as a part of the present study were optimized for expression in tobacco.
    FIG. 2 illustrates various co-transformations approaches. Each expression casseUe is represented by the short name of the coding sequence. The coding sequences are specified in table 1. Each co-transformation was performed by two pBINPLUS binary vectors. Each rectangle represents a single pBINPLUS vector carrying one. two or three expression cassettes. Promoter and terminators are specified in Example 1.
    FIG. 3 is a multiplex PCR screening of transformants showing plants that are positive for Collagen alpha 1 ("324bp fragment) or Collagen alpha 2 (537bp fragment) or both.
    FIG. 4 is western blot analysis of transgenic plants generated by co-transformations 2, 3 and 4. Total soluble proteins were extracted from tobacco co-transformants #2, #3 and #4 and tested with anti-Collagen I antibody (-AB745 from Chemicon Inc.). Size markers were #SM0671 from Fermentas Lnc. W.T. is a wild type tobacco. Positive collagen bands are visible in plants that are PCR positive for collagen type! alpha 1 or alpha 2 or both. Positive control band of 500ng collagen type 1 from human placenta (#CC050 from Chemicon Inc., extracted from human placenta by pepsin digestion) represents about 0.3% of the total soluble proteins

    (about !50jig) in the samples from the transgenic plants. Th?r iarge: band at about 140 kDa in the human collagen sample is a procollagen with :": C-rrooepiide as detected by ami carboxy-ierminal pro-pepride of collagen type I zrs-body *'=MAB1913 from Chemicon Inc.). The smaller band ax about 120 kDa in the 30222 collagen sample is a collagen without propeptides- Due to their unusual couuzysgkzz psofce rich proteins (including collagen)s consistently migrate on polyacryiafflak: gets as bancs with molecular mass higher than expected. Therefore xkz: -ircslagea chams without propeptides with a molecular weight of about 95kDa rKE^na&r as a band of about 120kDa.
    FIG. 5 is a western blot analysis of transgenic pfcant generated by co-transformation #8 (carrying appoplast signals translatiooaih fused to the collagen chains). Total soluble proteins were extracted from transgenic lobacco leaves and tested with anti-Collagen I antibody (#AB745 from Chenncon Inc.) Positive collagen alpha 2 band is visible in plant 8-141. Collagen type I from human placenta (#CC050 from Chemicon Inc.) served as control.
    FiGs. 6a-b illustrate collagen triple helix assembly and thermal stability as qualified by heat treatment and Trypsin or Pepsin digestion. In Figure 6a - total soluble protein from tobacco 2-9 (expressing only col alpha* and no P4H) and 3-5 (expressing both col alpha 1-K2 and human P4H alpha and beta subunits) were subjected to heat treatment (15 minutes in 38 °C or 43 "O followed by Trypsin digestion (20 minutes in R.T.) and tested with anti-Collagen ] antibody m a Western blot procedure. Positive controls were samples of 500 ng human collagen 1 ■+- total soluble proteins of w.t. tobacco. In Figure 6b - tola] soluhte proteins were extracted from transgenic tobacco 13-6 (expressing collagen I alpha ! and aipha 2 chains -pointed by arrows, human P4H alpha and beta subunirs and human LH3) and subjected to heat treatment (20 minutes in 33 °C, 38 °C or 42 °C), immediately cooled on ice to prevent reassembly of triple helix and incubated with pepsin for 30 minutes in room temperature (about 22 °C) followed by testing with anti-Collagen I antibody ((#AB745 from Chemicon Inc.) in a standard Western blot procedure. Positive control was sample of -50 ng human collagen 1 (#CC050 from Chemicon Inc., extracted from human placenta by pepsin digestion) which was added to total soluble proteins extracted from w.t. tobacco.

    FIG. 7 iiiu-straiss Northern blor analysis conducted on wild type tobacco. Blots were probed with tobacco P4H cDNA.
    FIG. 8 is a western blot analysis of transgenic plants generated by co-transformations 2. 3 and 13. Totai soluble protein was extracted from tobacco co-transformants and tested with anti human P4H alpha and beta and anti-Collagen I antibodies.
    DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
    The present invention is of plants expressing and accumulating collagen which can be used to produce collagen and collagen fibers which display characteristics of mammalian collagen.
    The principles and operation of the present invention may be better understood with reference to the drawings and accompanying descriptions.
    Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details set forth in the following description or exemplified by the Examples. The invention is capable of other embodiments or of being practiced or carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.
    Collagen producing plants are known in the art. Although such plants can be used to produce collagen chains as well as collagen, such chains are incorrectly hydroxylated and thus self-assembly thereof, whether in planta or not leads to collagen which is inherently unstable.
    While reducing the present invention to practice, the present inventors have devised a plant expression approach which ensures correct hydroxylation of collagen chains and thus enables in-planta production of collagen which closely mimics the characteristics (e.g. temperature stability) of human type I collagen.
    Thus, according to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a genetically modified plant which is capable of expressing at least one type of a collagen alpha chain and accumulating it in a subcellular compartment which is devoid of endogenous P4H activity.
    As used herein, the phrase "genetically modified plant" refers to any lower (e.g. moss) or higher (vascular) plant or a tissue or an isolated cell thereof (e.g.. of a

    ceii suspension) which is siabh or Lrar^enily Transformed with an exogenous polynucleotide sequence. Examples of p-ls^ :;*ciuo<: tobacco maize alfalfa rice: potato. soybean. tomato. wheat. barley. cinoia. cotion. carrot as well lower plants such moss.> As used herein, the phrase "colla^r csasT refers to a collagen subunit such as the alpha 1 or 2 chains of collagen fibers. pKaerabiy type ! fibers. As used herein. the phrase "collagen " refers to an asse?E£§££ collages trtrner, which in the case of type I collagen includes two alpha 1 chains ss: one alpha 2 chain. A collagen fiber is collagen which is devoid of terminal propepoocs C and N.
    As is used herein, the phrase "subceJhiar compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity" refers to any compartmentalized region of the cell which does not include plant P4H or an enzyme having piais-iike P4H activity. Examples of such subcellular compartments include the vacuole, apopiast and cytoplasm as well as organelles such as the chloroplast, mitochondria and the like.
    Any type of collagen chain can be expressed by the genetically modified plant of the present invention. Examples include Fibril-forming collagens (types L II, III. V, and XI), networks forming collagens (types IV. MIL and X). collagens associated with fibril surfaces (types IX, XII. and X3V), collagens which occur as transmembrane proteins (types XIII and XVTI). or form 11-nm periodic beaded filaments (type VI). For further description pkase see Hulmes. 2002.
    Preferably, the collagen chain expressed is an a»pha 1 and/or 2 chain of type I collagen. The expressed collagen alpha chain can be encoded by any polynucleotide sequences derived from any mammal. Preferably, the sequences encoding collagen alpha chains are human and are set forth by SEQ ID NOs: 1 and 4.
    Typically, alpha collagen chains expressed in plants may or may not include their terminal propeptides (i.e. propeptide C and propeptide N).
    Ruggiero et al. (2000) note that processing of procollagen by plant proteolytic activity is different then normal processing in human and that propeptide C is removed by plant proteolytic activity although the cleavage site is unknown. Cleavage of the C propeptide may take place on a procollagen peptide before the assembly of trimmer (association of three C-Propeptides is essential for initiating the assembly of trimmers).
    N-propeptide cleavage by plant proteolytic activity takes place in mature

    plants bur not in rjianiieTs S'lreh cleavage removes 2 amino acids from the K telopepiide (2 oui of i7;v
    The C-propeptides ;'anc ic a lesser extent the N-propepiides) maintain the procollagen soluble during its passage through the animat ce!! (BuUeid et aL 2000) and are expected to have a similar effect in the plant ceil Following or during secretion of procollagen molecules into the extracellular matrix, propeptides are removed by procollagen N- ano C- proteinases, thereby triggering spontaneous seif-assembh of collagen molecules into fibrils (Huimes. 2002). Removal of the propeptides by procollagen N- and C-proteinases lowers the solubility of procollagen by > 10000-fold and is necessary and sufficient to initiate the self-assembly of collagen into fibers. Crucial to this assembly process are short non triple-heiical peptides called Telopeptides ai the ends of the triple-helical domain, which vnsure correct registration of the collagen molecules within the fibril structure and lower the critical concentration for self-assembly (Bulleid et a!.. 2000). Prior art describe the use of pepsin to cleave the propeptides during production of collagen (Bulleid et al 2000). However pepsin damages the telopeptides and as a result, pepsin-extracted collagen is unable to form ordered fibrillar structures (Bulleid et al 2000).
    Protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) that form the beta subunit of human P4H was shown to bind to the C-propeptide prior to trimmer assembly thereby also acting as a molecular chaperone during chain assembly (Ruggiero et al, 2000). The use of human Procollagen 1 N-proteinase and Procollagen C-proteinase expressed in a different plants may generate collagen that is more similar to the native human collagen and can form ordered fibrillar structures.
    In a case where N or C propeptides or both are included in the expressed collagen chain, the genetically modified plant of the present invention can also express the respective protease (i.e. C or N or both). Polynucleotide sequences encoding such proteases are exemplified by SEQ TD NOs: 18 (protease C) and 20 (Protease N). Such proteases can be expressed such that they are accumulated in the same subcellular compartment as the collagen chain.
    Accumulation of the expressed collagen chain in a subcellular compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity can be effected via any one of several approaches.
    For example, the expressed collagen chain can include a signal sequence for targeting the expressed protein to a subcellular compartment such as the apoplast or

    an organelle (e.g. ch!orop!astj. E-^~r-iei of suitable signal sequences include the chloroplast transit peptide {" include :-r: S~"i5S-Pro! entry P07689. amino acids 1- 57) and the Mitochondrion transit ?e~K~y: .'-Deluded in Svviss-Prot entry P46643. amino acids 1- 28). The Examples secdoo -*hich follows provides additional examples of suitable signal sequences as well as gsaA4tnes for employing such signal sequences in expression of collagen chains in pisss cz&z.
    Alternatively, the sequence oc me coiiagea chain can be modified in a way which alters the cellular localization of collagen when expressed in plants.
    As is mentioned hereinabove, &£ ER of plants includes a P4H which is incapable of correctly hydroxylases coilagen chains. Collagen alpha chains natively include an ER targeting sequence which directs expressed collagen into the ER where it is post-translationally modified Example 1 of the Examples section which follows describes generation of collagen sequences w:hich are devoid of ER sequences.
    Still alternatively, collagen chains can be expressed and accumulated in a DNA containing organelle such as the chloroplast or mitochondria. Further description of chloroplast expression is provided hereinbelow.
    As is mentioned hereinabove, hydroxylation of alpha chains is required for assembly of a stable type 1 collagen. Since alpha chains expressed by the genetically modified plant of the present invention accumulate in a compartment devoid of endogenous P4H activity, such chains must he isolated from the plant, plant tissue or cell and in-vitro hydroxylated. Such hydroxylation can be achieved by the method described by Turpeenniemi-Hujanen and Myllyla (Concomitant hydroxylation of proline and lysine residues in collagen using purified enzymes in vitro. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1984 Jul 16;800(l):59-65).
    Although such in-vitro hvdroxvlation can lead to correctlv hvdroxvlated collagen chains, it can be difficult and costly to achieve.
    To overcome the limitations of in-vitro hvdroxvlation. the eeneticallv modified plant of the present invention preferably also co-expresses P4H which is capable of correctly hydroxylating the collagen alpha chain(s) [i.e. hydroxy! jiting only the proline fY) position of the Gly -X-Y triplets]. P4H is an enzyme composed of

    two Subunit5. alpha and beta. Both are r^tcltd ;o form an active enzyme while the Beta subunii also posses a chaperon function.
    The P4H expressed by the genetically modified plant of the present invention is preferably a human P4H which is encoded by, for example, SEQ ID's NO: 12 and 14. In addition. P4H mutanis which exhibit enhanced substrate specificity, or P4H homologues can also be used
    A suitable P4H homologue is exemplified by an Arabidopsis oxidoreductase identified by NCBi accession NP_i 79363. Pairwise alignment of this protein sequence and a human P4H alpha subunit conducted by the present inventors revealed the highest homology between functional domains of any known P4H homologs of
    plants.
    Since P4H needs to co-accumulate with the expressed collagen chain, the coding sequence thereof is preferably modified accordingly (addition of signal sequences, deletions which may prevent ER targeting etc).
    In mammalian cells, collagen is also modified by Lysyl hydroxylase, galactosyltransferase and glucosyltransferase. These enzymes sequentially modify lysyl residues in specific positions to hydroxylysyl. galactosylhydroxylysyl and glucosylgalactosyi hydroxylysyl residues. A single human enzyme. Lysyl hydroxylase 3 (LH.3) can catalyze all three consecutive steps in hydroxylysine linked carbohydrate formation-
    Thus, the genetically modified plant of the present invention preferably also expresses mammalian LH3. .An LH3 encoding sequence such as that set forth by SEQ ID NO: 22 can be used for such purposes.
    The collagen chain(s) and modifying enzymes described above can be expressed from a stably integrated or a transiently expressed nucleic acid construct which includes polynucleotide sequences encoding the alpha chains and/or modifying enzymes (e.g. P4H and LH3) positioned under the transcriptional control of plant functional promoters. Such a nucleic acid construct (which is also termed herein as an expression construct) can be configured for expression throughout the whole plant, defined plant tissues or defined plant cells, or at define developmental stages of the plant. Such a construct may also include selection markers (e.g. antibiotic resistance), enhancer elements and an origin of replication for bacterial replication.

    I: will be appreciated thai :or._ Numerous piant funcfioaai expressK>d promoters and enhancers which can be either tissue specific. deveSoqsaczsaiiy specific, constitutive or inducible can be utilized by the constructs of the pseseai invention, some examples are provided hereinunder
    As used herein in the specfficarion and in the claims section that follows the phrase "plant promoter" or "promoter* includes a promoter which can direct gene expression in plant cells (including DSA containing organelles). Such a promoter can be derived from a plant bacteriaL viral, fungal or animal origin. Such a promoter can be constitute, i.e.. capable of directing high level of gene expression in a plurality of plant tissues, tissue specific, i.e.. capable of directing gene expression in a particular plant tissue or tissues, inducible. Le_ capable of directing gene expression under a stimulus, or chimeric, i.e.. formed of portions of at least two different promoters.
    Thus, the plant promoter employed can be a constitutive promoter, a tissue specific promoter, an inducible promoter or a chimeric promoter.
    Examples of constitutive piam promoters include, without being limited to. CaMV35S and CaMV19S promoters. FMY34S promoter, sugarcane haciiliform badnavirus promoter. CsVMV promoter, Arahidopsis ACT2/ACT8 actin promoter. Arabidcpsis ubiquitin UBQ1 promoter, barley leaf thionin BTH6 promoter, and rice actin promoter.
    Examples of tissue specific promoters include, without being limited to. bean phaseolin storage protein promoter, DLEC promoter. PHS promoter, zein storage protein promoter, conglutin gamma promoter from soybean. AT2S1 gene promoter. ACT11 actin promoter from Arahidopsis, napA promoter from Brassica napus and potato patatin gene promoter.
    The inducible promoter is a promoter induced by a specific stimuli such as stress conditions comprising, for example, light, temperature, chemicals, drought. high salinity, osmotic shocle oxidant conditions or in case of pathogenicity and

    include, wuhoui being limited to. the iigh'-inducihle promoier derived from the pea rbcS gene, the promoter from the alfalfa rbcS gene, the promoters DRE. MYC and MYB active in drought; the promoters INT. tNPS. prxEa. Ha hspi7.7G^ and RD2I active in high saiinit} and osmotic stress, and the promoters hsr203J and str246C active in pathogenic stress.
    Preferably the promoter utilized by the present invention is a strong constitutive promoter such that over expression of the construct inserts is effected following plant transformation
    It will be appreciated that any of the construct types used in the present invention can be co-transformed into the same plant using same or different selection markers in each construct type. Alternatively the first construct type can be introduced into a first plant while the second construct type can be introduced into a second isogenic plant, following which the transgenic plants resultant therefrom can be crossed and the progeny selected for double transformants. Further self-crosses of such progeny can be employed to generate lines homozygous for both constructs.
    There are various methods of introducing nucleic acid constructs into both monocotyledonous and dicotyledenous plants (Potrykus. I.. Annu. Rev. Plant. Physiol.. Plant. Mol. Biol. (1991) 42:205-225; Shimamoto et al., Nature (1989) 338:274-276). Such methods rely on either stable integration of the nucleic acid construct or a portion thereof into the genome of the plant or on transient expression of the nucleic acid construct in which case these sequences are not inherited by a progeny of the plant.
    In addition, several method exist in which a nucleic acid construct can be directly introduced into the DNA of a DNA containing organelle such as a chloroplast.
    There are two principle methods of effecting stable genomic integration of exogenous sequences such as those included within the nucleic acid constructs of the present invention into plant genomes:
    (i) Agrobacterium-med&ttd gene transfer: Klee et al. (1987) Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. 38:467-486; Klee and Rogers in Cell Culture and Somatic Cell Genetics of Plants. Vol. 6. Molecular Biology of Plant Nuclear Genes, eds. SchelL J., and VasiL L. K., Academic Publishers, San Diego, Calif (1989) p. 2-25;

    Gatenby. in Plant B:0tec^n.>Okf>. -rd- Kuril. S. and Amtzen. C. J.. Burterworth Publishers. Boston, Mass. . ;-'T?V r. v3-:".I.
    (ii) direc; DNA ^rca^c ?aszk.owsk.": *:: -/. in Ceil Culture and Somatic Cell Genetics of Plants, Vol. 6. Moiecuiar Biology of Plant Nuclear Genes eds. Schelh J.. and Vasil. L. K.. Academe Psbfehers. San Diego. Calif (1989) p. 52-68: includuig methods for direct uptake o>: DKA tntc- protoplasts. Toriyama, K. et al. (1988^ Bio/Technology 6:1072-107-* DNA uptake induced by brief electric shock of plant cells: Zhang ei ai Plant C^S Rep. ; i98?? ~:379-384. Fromm et ai. Nature (1986) 319:791-793 DNA uyecnae into piant cells or tissues by particle bombardment Klein et ai. Biotechnology H9S£'; 6:559-563: McCabe et ai Bio/Technology (1988) 6:923-926: Sanfoni Physiol. Plant (1990) 79:206-209; by the use of micropipette systems: Neufaaus et ai. Theor. App!. Genet. (1987) 75:30-36: Neuhaus and Spangenherg. Physsoi. Plani. (1990) 79:213-217; or by the direct incubation of DNA with germinating pollen, DeWet ei ai in Experimental Manipulation of Ovule Tissue, eds. Chapman. G. P. and Mantel 1, S. H. and Daniels. W. Longman. London, (1985) p. 197-209: and Ohta, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (1986) 83:715-719
    The Agrohacterium system includes the use of plasmid vectors that contain defined DNA segments that integrate into the plant genomic DNA. Methods of inoculation of the plant tissue vary depending upon the plant species and the Agrohacterium delivery system. A wider* used approach is the leaf disc procedure which can be performed with an> tissue explant that provides a good source for initiation of whole plant differentiation Horsch et ai. in Plant Molecular Biology Manual A5. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht (1988) p. 1-9. A supplementary approach employs the Agroboctenum delivery' system in combination with vacuum infiltration. The Agra bacterium system is especially viable in the creation of transgenic dicotyledenous plants.
    There are various methods of direct DNA transfer into plant cells. In electroporation, protoplasts are briefly exposed to a strong electric field. In microinjection, the DNA is mechanically injected directly into the cells using very-small micropipettes. In microparticle bombardment, the DNA is adsorbed on microprojectiles such as magnesium sulfate crystals, tungsten particles or gold particles, and the microprojectiles are physically accelerated into cells or plant tissues.

    Following transformation piant propagation is exercised. The most common method of plant propagation is bv seed. Regeneration by seed propagation. howe\er, has the deficiency that due to heterozygosity there is a Sack of uniformity in the crop. since seeds are produced by plants according to the genetic variances governed by Mendelian rules. Basically, each seed is genetically different and each will grow with its own specific traits. Therefore, it is preferred that the transformed plant be produced such that the regenerated piant has the identical traits and characteristics of the parent transgenic plant. Therefore, i: is preferred that the transformed plant be regenerated by rmcropropagation which provides a rapid, consistent reproduction of the transformed plants.
    Transient expression methods which can be utilized for transiently expressing the isolated nucleic acid included within the nucleic acid construct of the present invention include, but are not limited to. microinjection and bombardment as described above but under conditions which favor transient expression, and viral mediated expression wherein a packaged or unpackaged recombinant virus vector including the nucleic acid construct is utilized to infect plant tissues or cells such that a propagating recombinant virus established therein expresses the non-viral nucleic acid sequence.
    Viruses that have been shown to be useful for the transformation of plant hosts include CaMV, TMV and BV. Transformation of plants using plant viruses is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,855,237 (BGV), EP-A 67,553 (TMV), Japanese Published Application No. 63-14693 (TMV), EPA 194,809 (BV), EPA 278,667 (BV); and Gluzman. Y. ei al. Communications in Molecular Biology: Viral Vectors. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. New York, pp. 172-189 (1988). Pseudovirus particles for use in expressing foreign DNA in many hosts, including plants, is described in WO 87/06261.
    Construction of plant RNA viruses for the introduction and expression of non-viral exogenous nucleic acid sequences in plants is demonstrated by the above references as well as by Dawson, W. O. et al. Virology (1989) 172:285-292; Takamatsu et al. EMBO J. (1987) 6:307-311; French et al Science (1986) 231:1294-1297; and Takamatsu et al. FEBS Letters (1990) 269:73-76.
    When the virus is a DNA virus, the constructions can be made to the virus itself. Alternatively, the virus can first be cloned into a bacterial plasmid for ease of

    coo^rucung the desired vjrai vector AITH ir,e loreiun U>A. I he V:OJS can then c-e excised frorr: the plasm id. If the vims is a DNA virus, a bacteria; origin of replication czr :>e anacned to the viral DNA. which is then replicated b> the bacteria. TrasscripDon and translation of this DNA will produce the coat protein which will eccapsstfeie the viral DNA. If the virus is an RNA virus, the virus is generally cloned as ~* rDN'A a^i inserted into a plasrnid. The piasmid is then used to make all of the coesGHSciions- Toe RNA virus is then produced by transcribing the viral sequence of the Dsasmki and translation of the viral genes to produce the coat protein(s) which aacapsadsaie tbe viral RNA.
    Construction of plant RNA viruses for the introduction and expression in piffles of noo-viral exogenous nucleic acid sequences such as those included in the construe: of the present invention is demonstrated by the above references as well as
    inU.S. Pat. No. 5316.931.
    In one embodiment a plant viral nucleic acid is provided in which the native coat protein coding sequence has been deleted from a viral nucleic acid, a non-native plant viral coat protein coding sequence and a non-native promoter, preferably the subgeaomk promoter of the non-native coat protein coding sequence, capable of expression in the plant host, packaging of the recombinant plant viral nucleic acid, and ensuring a systemic infection of the host by the recombinant plant viral nucleic acxL has been inserted. Alternatively, the coat protein gene may be inactivated by insertion of :he non-native nucleic acid sequence within it, such that a protein is produced. The recombinant plant viral nucleic acid may contain one or more additional non-naiive subgenomic promoters. Each non-native subgenomic promoter is capable of transcribing or expressing adjacent genes or nucleic acid sequences in the plant host and incapable of recombination with each other and with native subgenomic promoters. Non-native (foreign) nucleic acid sequences may be inserted adjacent the native plant viral subgenomic promoter or the native and a non-native plant viral subgenomic promoters if more than one nucleic acid sequence is included. The non-native nucleic acid sequences are transcribed or expressed in the host plant under control of the subgenomic promoter to produce the desired products.
    In a second embodiment, a recombinant plant viral nucleic acid is provided as in the first embodiment except that the native coat protein coding sequence is placed

    adjacent one or the non-native coat protein subgenomic promoters instead :■' - r-c»n-native coat protein coding sequence.
    in a third embodiment, a recombinant plant viral nucleic acid is prr^vsec Lr. which the native coat protein gene is adjacent its subgenomic promoter and one or more non-native subgenomic promoters have been inserted into the virai nuctec sod The inserted non-native subgenomic promoters are capable of transcxiossg >-expressing adjacent genes in a plant host and are incapable of recombinaLror ~isfc each other and with native subgenomic promoters. Non-native nucleic acid SCZZXTJZZS may be inserted adjacent the non-native subgenomic plant viral promoters ss.-cn 35s said sequences are transcribed or expressed in the host plant under control of the subgenomic promoters to produce the desired product.
    In a fourth embodiment a recombinant plant viral nucleic acid is provided as in the third embodiment except that the native coat protein coding sequence is replaced by a non-native coat protein coding sequence.
    The viral vectors are encapsidated by the coat proteins encoded by the recombinant plant viral nucleic acid to produce a recombinant plant virus The recombinant plant viral nucleic acid or recombinant plant virus is used to infect appropriate host plants. The recombinant plant virai nucleic acid is capable of replication in the host, systemic spread in the host, and transcription or expression of foreign gene(s) (isolated nucleic acid) in the host to produce the desired protein.
    A technique for introducing exogenous nucleic acid sequences to the genome of the chloroplasts is known. This technique involves the following procedures First plant cells are chemically treated so as to reduce the number of chloroplasts per eel! to about one. Then, the exogenous nucleic acid is introduced via particie bombardment into the celts with the aim of introducing at least one exogenous nucleic acid molecule into the chloroplasts. The exogenous nucleic acid is selected such that it is integratable into the chloroplasfs genome via homologous recombination which is readily effected by enzymes inherent to the chloroplast. To this end, the exogenous nucleic acid includes, in addition to a gene of interest at least one nucleic acid stretch which is derived from the chloroplasfs genome. In addition, the exogenous nucleic acid includes a selectable marker, which serves by sequential selection procedures to ascertain that all or substantially al! of the copies of the chJoroplast genomes following such selection will include the exogenous nucleic acid. Further details

    relating to ihis technique are found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,945.050; and 5,693,507 which are incorporated herein bv reference. A poh]3epude can thus be produced by the protein expression system of the chloropiast and become integrated into the chloroplast's inner membrane.
    The above described transformation approaches can be used to produce collagen chains and/or modifying enzymes as weli as assembled collagen (with or without propeptides) in any species of plant, or plant tissue or isolated plants cell derived therefrom.
    Preferred plants are those which are capable of accumulating large amounts of collagen chains, collagen and/or the processing enzymes described herein. Such plants may also be selected according to their resistance to stress conditions and the ease at which expressed components or assembled collagen can be extracted. Examples of preferred plants include Tobacco, Maize. Alfalfa, Rice, Potato. Soybean. Tomato, Wheat, Barley. Canola and Cotton.
    Collagen fibers are extensively used in the food and cosmetics industry. Thus, although collagen fiber components (alpha chains) and modifying enzymes expressed by plants find utility in industrial synthesis of collagen, complete collagen production in plants is preferred for its simplicity and cost effectiveness.
    Several approaches can be used to generate type 1 collagen in plants. For example, collagen alpha 1 chain can be isolated from a plant expressing collagen alpha 1 and P4H (and optionally LH3) and mixed with a collagen alpha 2 chain which is isolated from a plant expressing collagen alpha 2 and P4H (and optionally LH3 and protease C and/or Nj. Since collagen alpha 1 chain self assembles into a triple helix by itself, it may be necessary tc denature such a homo-trimer pnor to mixing and renaturation with the collagen alpha 2 chain.
    Preferably, a first plant expressing collagen alpha 1 and P4H (and optionally LH3 and protease C and/or N) can be crossed with a second (and preferably isogenic) plant which expresses collagen alpha 2 or alternatively, a first plant expressing both alpha chains can be crossed with a second plant expressing P4H and optionally LH3 and protease C and/or N.
    It should be noted that although the above described plant breeding approaches utilize two individually transformed plants, approaches which utilize three

    ov more individually transformed plants, each expressing one or two components can also be utilized.
    One of ordinary skill in the an would be well a wart af various plant breeding techniques and as s such no further description of such tedsaques is provided herein.
    Although plant breeding approaches are preferred. £ sscoki be noted that a single plant expressing collagen alpha 1 and 2. P4H and LH3 ?^sc opdortaliy protease C and/or N) can be generated via several transformasxH^ r^^nis each oesigned for introducing one more expressible components into the ceil, fc: such esses, stability of each transformation event can be verified using specific sdeG&oo markers
    In any case, transformation and plant breeding ^proacbes can be used to generate any plant expressing any number of components. Presently preferred are plants which express collagen alpha ) and 2 chains. P4K. LH3 and at least one protease (e.g. protease C and/or N). As is further described in the Examples section which follows, such plants accumulate collagen which exhibits stability at temperatures of up to 42 °C.
    Progeny resulting from breeding or alternatively multiple-transformed plants can be selected, by verifying presence of exogenous mRNA and/or polypeptides by using nucleic acid or protein probes (e.g. antibodies). The iaGer approach is preferred since it enables localization of the expressed polypeptide components (by for example, probing fractionated plants extracts) and thus also vsn iies a potential for correct processing and assembly. Examples of suitable probes are provided in the Examples section which follows
    Once collagen-expressing progeny is identified, such plants are further cultivated under conditions which maximize expression of the collagen chains as well as the modifying enzymes.
    Since free proline accumulation may facilitate over production of different proline-rich proteins including the collagen chains expressed by the genetically-modified plants of the present invention, preferred cultivating conditions are those which increase free proline accumulation in the cultivated plant.
    Free proline accumulates in a variety of plants in response to a wide range of environmental stresses including water deprivation, salinization, low temperature, high temperature, pathogen infection, heavy metal toxicity, anaerobiosis. nutrient deficiency, atmospheric pollution and UV - irradiation (Hare and Cress. 1 997).

    rree proline ma}" a:so accumuiare IP. response \o treatment of the plant or soil with compounds such as ABA or stress inducing compounds such as copper salt, paraquate. salicylic acid and the like.
    Thus, collagen-expressing progeny can be grown under different stress conditions (e.g. different concentrations of NaCi ranging from 50mM up to 250mM). In order to further enhance collagen production, die effect of various stress conditions on collagen expression will examined anc optimized with respect to plant viability, biomass and collagen accumulation.
    Plant tissues/cells are preferably harvested at maturity, and the collagen fibers are isolated using well know prior an extraction approaches, one such approach is detailed below.
    Leaves of transgenic plants are ground to a powder under liquid nitrogen and the homogenate is extracted in 0.5 M acetic acid containing 0.2 M NaCi for 60 h at 4 °C. Insoluble material is removed by centrifugation The supernatant containing the recombinant collagen is salt-fractionated at 0.4 M and 0.7 M NaCi. The 0.7 M NaCi precipitate, containing the recombinant heterotrimenc collagen, is dissolved in and dialyzed against 0.1 M acetic acid and stored at -20 CC (following Ruggiero et aL 2000).
    Additional objects, advantages, and novel features of the present invention will become apparent to one ordinarily skilled in the an upon examination of the following examples, which are not intended to be limiting. Additionally, each of the various embodiments and aspects of the present invention as delineated hereinabove and as claimed in the claims section below finds experimental support in the following examples.
    EXAMPLES
    Reference is now made to the following examples, which together with the above descriptions, illustrate the invention in a non limiting fashion.
    Generally, the nomenclature used herein and the laboratory procedures utilized in the present invention include molecular, biochemical, microbiological and recombinant DNA techniques. Such techniques are thoroughly explained in the literature. See. for example. "Molecular Cloning: A laboratory Manual" Sambrook et



    expression in tobacco and chemically synthesized with desired flanking regions i'SEQ
    ID NOs: 1, 4. 7. :2_ 14. !67 18. 20. 22;. Figure la - the synthetic genes coding for
    Coll and Co!2 (SEQ ID's 1. 4) fused either to the vacuolar signal or to the apopiast
    signal (encoded by SEQ ID NO: 7} or without signals were cloned in expression
    cassettes composed of a Chrysanthemum rbcSl promoter and 5' UTR (SEQ ID NO:
    10) and a Chrysanthemum rbcSl ??LTR and terminator (SEQ ID NO: 11). The
    complete expression cassettes were cloned in the multiple cloning site of the
    pBINPLUS plant transformation vector (van Engelen et al.. 1995. Transgenic Res 4:
    288-290). Figure ih - The synthetic genes coding for P4H beta-human, P4H alpha-
    human and P4H-plant (SEQ ID NOs: 12. 14 and 16) fused either to the vacuolar
    signal or to the apopiast signal (encoded by SEQ ID NO: 7) or without signals were
    cloned in expression cassettes composed of the CaMV 35S promoter and TMV omega
    sequence and A.grobacterium Nopa'me synthetase (NOS) terminator carried by the
    vector pJD330 (Galili et al.= 1987. Nucleic Acids Res 15: 3257-3273). The complete
    expression cassettes were cloned in the multiple cloning site of the pBINPLUS
    vectors carrying the expression cassettes of Coll or Col2. Figure !c - The synthetic
    genes coding for Proteinase C and Proteinase N (SEQ ID NOs: 1 8. 20) fused either to
    the vacuolar signal or to the apopiast signal (encoded by SEQ ID NO: 7) were cloned
    in expression cassettes composed of a Chrysanthemum rbcSl promoter and 5' UTR
    (SEQ ID NO: 10) and a Chrysanthemum rbcSl 3'UTR and terminator (SEQ ID NO:
    11). The complete expression cassettes were cloned in the multiple cloning site of the
    pBINPLUS piant transformation vector. Figure Id - The synthetic gene coding for
    LH3 (SEQ ID NO: 22) with flanking Strawberry vein banding virus (SVRV)
    promoter (NCBI accession AF331666 REGION: 623..950 version AF331666.1
    GI:13345788) and terminated by Agrobacterium octopin synthase (OCS) terminator (NCBI accession Z37515 REGION: 1344..1538 version Z37515.1 GL886843) fused either to the vacuolar signal or to the apopiast signal (encoded by SEQ ID NO: 7) or without signals was cloned in the multiple cloning site of the pBINPLUS vector carrying the expression cassettes of Coll and P4H beta.
    Co-transformations schemes utilizing the expression cassettes described in Figure 1 into a host plant are illustrated in Figure 2. Each expression cassette insert is represented by a short name of the coding sequence. The coding sequences and related SEQ ID NOs. are described in Table 1. Each co-transformation is preformed



    (i) Vacuole signai sequence oi barley gene for fhjol protease aleuram precursor (NCBI accession P05I67 Gi: 113603)
    M\R-\RVLLLALAVLATAAVAVASSSSFADSNPIRPVTDR.AASTLA (SEQ ID NO: 24).
    (ii) Apopiast signal of Arabiciopsis thaiiana endo-l54-beta-glucanase (Cell, NCB1 accession CAA67I56.1 GI:2440033); SEQ ED NO. 9, encoded by SEQ ID NO. 7.
    Construction ofplasmids
    Plant expression vectors were constructed as taught in Example K the composition of each constructed expression vector was confirmed via restriction analysis and sequencing.
    Expression vectors including the following expression cassettes were constructed:
    1. Collagen alpha 1 . '
    2. Collagen alpha 1 + human P4H beta suburjt
    3. Collagen alpha 1 * human P4H beta subunit ± human . LH3
    4. Collagen alpha 2 • ■5. Collagen alpha 2 + with human P4H alpha subunit

    6. Collagen alpha 2 + with Arabidopsis P4H ■ *'■
    7. Human P4H beta subunit + human LH3
    8. Human P4H alpha subunit
    Each of the above described "coding sequences was either translationally fused to a vacuole transit peptide or to an apoplasm transit peptide or was devoid of any transit peptide sequences; in which case cytoplasmic accumulation is expected.
    Plant transformation and PCR screening
    Tobacco plants'(Nicotiana tabacum, Samsun NN) were transformed with the above described-expression vectors according to the transformation scheme taught in Figure 2.
    Resultant transgenic plants were screened via multiplex PCR using four primers which were designed capable of amplifying a 324bp fragment of Collagen

    aloha 1 and 3 5? fbv frasr^n: o: \_0iia2en abha 2 .Table 2\. Figure 3 illustrates the results of one mulitpiex PCR screen.

    EXAMPLE 3 Detection of human collagen in transgenic tobacco plants
    Total soluble proteins were extracted from tobacco transformants 2. 3 and 4 by grinding 500 mg of leaves in 0.5 mi 50 mM Tris-HCl pH=7.5 with a "Complete"" protease inhibitor cocktail (product ==1836145 from Roche Diagnostics GmbH, 1 tablet per 50 ml buffer). The crude extract was mixed with 250jil 4X Sample application buffer containing 10% beta-mercapto-ethanol and 8% SDS. the samples were boiled for 7 minutes and centrifuged for 8 minutes in 13000 rpm. 20ul of the supernatant were loaded in a ;0% pcJyacryiamide gel and tested with anti-Collagen I (denatured) antibody ((#AB745 from Chemicon Inc.) in a standard Western blot procedure (Figure 4). W.T. is a wild type tobacco. Positive collagen bands are visible in plants that are PCR positive for collagen type I alpha 1 or alpha 2 or both. Positive control band of 500ng collagen type 1 from human placenta (#CC050 from Chemicon Inc.) represents about 0.3% of the total soluble proteins (about 150|ig) in the samples from the transgenic plants.
    Plants expressing collagen at the expected molecular weight up to -1% of the total soluble proteins were detected when collagen was targeted to the vacuole (Figure 4). Subcellular targeting of full length collagen to the apoplast was sucsessfuly achieved (Figure 5). Plants expessing collagen in the cytoplasm (i.e. no targeting

    peptide} did not accumulate collagen to detectable levels showing that subcellular lareting of collagen in pi ants is critical for success.
    In addition in contrast to the studies of Ruggiero ei a!. 2000 and Merle et al. 2002 which showed that collagen lacking the N-propeptide was subjected to significant proteolysis, 'using the present approach full length collagen proteins with C-propeptide and N-propeptide accumulated in subcellular compartments at high levels.
    The present data also clearly shows that crossing two plants each expressing a different collagen chain type is advantageous in that it enables selection of plants expressing optimai levels of each chain type and subsequent plant crossing to achieve the desired collagen producing plant.
    Collagen produced by the plants of the present invention includes the native propeptides and therefore is expected to form a larger protein then the human control that was purified by proteolysis. The calculated molecular weight of Collagen alpha 1 and alpha 2 chains without hydroxylations or glycosylations are the following: Coll with propeptides - 136kDa, Coll without propeptides - 95kDa, Col2 with propeptides - 127kD£L. Col2 without propeptides -92kDa.
    As can be seen in Figures 4. the Coll bands in transformants 3-5 and 3-49 appears larger then Coll bands in other plants. This indicates prolines hydroxyiation in collagen chains by human prolines-hydroxylase holoenzyme composed of alpha and beta subunits that were coexpressed in these plants and targeted to the same subcellular compartment as the human collagen chains (e.g. vacuole).
    EXAMPLE 4 Collagen triple helix assembly and thermal stability in transgenic plants
    Assembly of collagen triple helix and the helix thermal stability in transgenic plants were tested by thennal denaturation followed by trypsin or pepsin digestion of the total crude protein extract of transgenic plants (Figures 6a-b). In a first experiment total soluble proteins from tobacco 2-9 (expressing only col alfal and no P4H) and 3-5 (expressing both col alfal+2 and P4H) were extracted by grinding 500 mg leaves in 0.5 ml of 50 mM Tris-HCl pH=7.5. centrifuging for 10 minutes in 13000 rpm and collecting the supernatant. 50ul of the supernatant were subjected to heat treatment (15 minutes in 33 °C or 43 °C) and then immediately

    placed on ice. Trypsin dicesnon wa^ initialed t>y adding to each sample 6ul of 1 mg mi Trypsin :-r 5C mM Tris-HC! pH-7.5. The samples were incubated for 20 minutes at rooc: tesioeranire = about 22 ~'C). The digestion was terminated by addition of 20ul 4X sairsjae application buffer containing 10% betamercaptoethanol and 8% SDS? the samples *ese boiled for 7 minutes and centriftiged for 7 minutes at 13000 rpm. 50^i of the sapezassasn were loaded onto a 10% polyacrylamide gel and tested with anti-ColkaacE ' antibody (C=AB745 from Chemicon Inc.) using a standard Western blot pcoceds^e. Positive controls were samples of -500 ng human collagen 1 (#CC050 from Qaesacon inc.. extracted from human placenta by pepsin digestion) which was added to 50ji! lotai soluble proteins extracted from wx tobacco.
    As shown fs Figure 6a. collagen triple helix that formed in plants #3-5 as well as control human coUbgen was resistant to denaturation at 33 °C. In contrast, collagen formed by plants =2-9 denatured at 33 °C. This difference in thermal stability indicates a successful triple helix assembly and post translational proline hydroxylation in transformants #3-5 which express both collagen alpha 1 and collagen alpha 2 as well as P4H beta and alpha subunits-
    Two bands in transformants #2-9 may represent dimers or trimers. which are stable following 7 minutes of boiiing with SDS and mercaptoethanol. Similar bands are visible in human collagen (upper panel) and in transformants #3-5. A possible explanation is a covalent bond between two peptides in different triple helixes (cross link), formed folkywing oxidative deamination of two lysines by Lysine oxidase. In a second experiment, total soluble proteins from transgenic tobacco 13-6 (expressing collagen I alpha 1 and alpha 2 chains - pointed by arrows, human P4H alpha and beta subunits and human LH3) were extracted by grinding 500 mg of leaves in 0.5 ml of 100 mM Tris-HC! pH=7.5 and 300 mM NaCL centrifuging for 7 minutes at 10000 rpm and collecting the supernatant. 50^1 of the supernatant was subjected to heat treatment (20 minutes in 33 CC 38 °C or 42 °C) and then immediately placed on ice. Pepsin digestion was initiated by adding to each sample 4.5(il of 0.1M HCl and 4|il of 2.5 mg/ml Pepsin in 10 mM acetic acid. The samples were incubated for 30 minutes at room temperature (about 22 °C). The digestion was terminated by adding 5p! of unbuffered 1 M Tris. Each sample was mixed with 22ul 4X Sample application buffer containing 10% beta-mercapto-ethanol and 8% SDS, boiled for 7 minutes and centrifuged for 7 minutes in 13000 rpm. 40ul of the supernatant were loaded in a 10%

    pclyacryliirnide gei and tested with art:-Collagen I antibody ((#AB745 from Chemicon Inc.) in a standard Western bio! procedure. Positive control was sample of -50 ng human collagen 1 (#CC050 from Chemicon Inc., extracted from human placenta by pepsin digestion) added to iota! soluble proteins from w.t. tobacco.
    As is illustrated in Figure 6b, collagen triple helix that formed in plant #13-6 was resistant to denaturation ax 42 °C. Cleavage of the propetides is first visible at 33 CC and gradually increases in efficiency when the temperature is raised to 38 °C and again to 42 CC. The cleaved collagen triple helix domain shows a similar migration on the gel to the migration of the pepsin treated human collagen. The human collagen that was used in this experiment was extracted from human placenta by pepsin proteolysis and therefore lacks the propeptides and some of the telopeptides.
    EXAMPLE 5 Plant P4H expression Induction of native plant P4H
    Tobacco P4H cDNA was cloned and used as a probe to determine conditions and treatments that would induce endogenous P4H expression. Northern blot analysis (Figure 7) clearly shows that P4H is expressed at relatively high levels in the shoot apex and at low levels in leaves. P4H level was induced significantly in leaves 4 hours following abrasion treatment ("wounded' in the lower panel). Similar results were achieved using other stress conditions (not shown)
    Detection of human P4H alpha and beta subunits and collagen alpha 1 and alpha 2 chains in transgenic tobacco plants
    Detection of human P4H alpha and beta subunits and collagen type I alpha 1 and alpha 2 chains in transgenic tobacco plants was. effected using anti-human P4H alpha subunit antibody (#63-163 from ICN Biomedicals Inc.): anti-human P4H beta subunit antibody (#MAB2701 from Chemicon Inc.) and anti-Collagen I antibody (#AB745 from Chemicon Inc.). The results of a western blot probed with these antibodies are shown in Figure 8.
    Expression of P4H alpha, P4H beta and collagen I alpha 1 and alpha 2 bands was confirmed in plant 13-6 (also transformed also with human LH3). The calculated molecular weights of P4H alpha and beta including the vacuolar signal peptide are

    65.5 kDa and 53.4 kDa respectively. Tne calculated meie^uiar weights of Collagen aipha i and alpha 2 chains with propeptides, without hydr.;x virions or gjycosylaiions are 136 kDa and 1 27 kDa respectively.
    It is appreciated that certain features of the invesssocL wtacfc are. for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, ssa* ^so be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various ss^s^s of the invention, which are. for brevity, described in the context of a singie ezsbodiineni. may also be provided separately or m any suitable subcombination.
    Although the invention has been described in cxy^uoctkm with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications ai>d variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, ii is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims. All publications, patents and patent applications and GenBank Accession numbers mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated in their entirety by reference into the specification, to the same extent as if each individual publication, patent or patent application or GenBank Accession number was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated herein by reference. In addition, citation or identification of any reference in this application shall not be construed as an admission that such reference is available as prior an to the present invention.

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    1. A method of producing collagen in a plant or an isolated plant cell comprising targeting to a vacuole of the plant or the isolated piant cell at least one type of a collagen chain and an exogenous P4H so as to allow hydroxylation of said at least one type of said collagen chain by said exogenous P4H and not. by an endogenous P4H of the plant or isolated plant cell, thereby producing the collagen in the plant.
    2. A genetically modified plant or isolated plant cell comprising in a vacuole thereof:
    (i) at least one type of a collagen chain; and
    (ii) an exogenous P4H.
    3. A plant system comprising:
    a first genetically modified plant comprising in a vacuole thereof: (i) a collagen alpha 1 chain; and (ii) an exogenous P4H; and
    a second genetically modified plant comprising in a vacuole thereof: (i) a collagen alpha 2 chain: and (ii) an exogenous P4H.
    4. A method of producing fibrillar collagen comprising:
    (a) providing the plant system of claim 3:
    (b) crossing said first plant and said second plant; and
    (c) selecting progeny expressing said collagen alpha 1 chain and said collagen alpha 2 chain thereby producing fibrillar collagen.

    5. The method of claim 4, wherein each of said collagen alpha 1 chain and said collagen alpha 2 chain comprises a signal peptide for targeting to said vacuole.
    6. A plant system comprising:
    a first genetically modified plant comprising in a vacuole thereof: (i) a collagen alpha 1 chain: and (ii) a collagen alpha 2 chain: and

    a second genetically modified p!ant comprising in a vacuole thereof an exogenous P4H.
    7. The plant system of claim 3 or 6. wherein each of said first genetically modified plant and said second genetically modified plant independently express an exogenous polypeptide selected from the group consisting of LH, protease N and protease C.
    8. A method of producing fibrillar collagen comprising:

    (a) providing the plant system of claim 6;
    (b) crossing said first plant and said second plant and selecting progeny expressing said collagen alpha 1 chain, said collagen alpha 2 chain and said P4H thereby producing fibrillar collagen.

    9. A nucleic acid construct comprising a polynucleotide encoding a human P4H attached to a vacuole targeting signal, said polynucleotide being positioned under the transcriptional control of a promoter functional in plant cells.
    10. The nucleic acid construct of claim 9, wherein said promoter is selected from the group consisting of the CaMV 35S promoter, the Ubiquitin promoter, the rbcS promoter and the SVBV promoter.
    11. A genetically modified plant or isolated plant cell being capable of
    accumulating collagen having a temperature stability at 42 °C.
    12. The genetically modified plant or isolated plant cell of claim IK wherein said collasen is tvpe 1 collaeen.
    13. The genetically modified plant or isolated plant cell of claim 1L wherein said mammalian collagen is human collagen.
    14. The method of claim 1, further comprising expressing an exogenous polypeptide selected from the group consisting of LH, protease N and protease C .

    15. The method or genetically modified plant of claim 1 or 2. wherein said at ieasi one t\pe of said collagen chain comprises a signal peptide for targeting to said vacuole.
    16. The method or genetically modified plant of claim 1 or 2. wherein said collagen chain comprises a collagen alpha chain.
    17. The method, genetically modified plant or plant system of claim 1, 2, 3. 4. 6 or 8. wherein said exogenous P4H comprises a signal peptide for targeting to said vacuole.
    18. The method, genetically modified plant or plant system of claim 1, 2, 3. 4. 6 or 8. wherein said exogenous P4H comprises mammalian P4H
    19. The method or genetically modified plpant of claim 16, wherein said at least one type of said collagen alpha chain comprises alpha 1 chain.
    20. The method or genetically modified plant of claim 16. wherein said at least one type of said collagen alpha chain comprises alpha 2 chain.
    21. The method or genetically modified plant of claim 1 or 2, wherein said at least one type of said collagen chain comprises a C-terminus and/or an N-terminus propeptide.
    22. The method, genetically modified plant or plant system of claim 1, 2. 3. 4, 6 or 8. wherein said exogenous P4H is capable of specifically hydroxylating the Y position of Gly-X-Y triplets of said at least one type of said collagen chain.
    23. The method, genetically modified plant or plant system of claim 18, wherein said mammalian P4H comprises human P4H.
    24. The method of claim L wherein the plant is subjected to a stress condition.

    25. The method of claim 24. wherein said stress condition is selected from
    the sroup consisting of drought, salinitv. iniurv. cold and spravine. with stress
    inducing compounds.
    26. The genetically modified plant of claim 2, further comprising an
    exogenous poly peptide selected from the group consisting of LH, protease N and
    protease C.
    27. The method or plant system of claim 3, 4, 6 or 8. wherein each of said
    collagen alpha 1 chain and said collagen alpha 2 chain comprises a C-terminus and/or
    an N-terminus propeptide.


    Documents:

    1819-CHENP-2007 AMENDED PAGES OF SPECIFICATION 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 amended pages of specification 19-07-2011.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 AMENDED CLAIMS 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 amended claims 19-07-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 form-3 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 OTHER PATENT DOCUMENT 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 other patent document1 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 POWER OF ATTORNEY 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 CORRESPONDENCE OTHERS 19-07-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 correspondence others 26-07-2011.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 EXAMINATION REPORT REPLY RECEIVED 04-03-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 form-1 19-07-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 form-3 26-07-2011.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007 form-3 19-07-2011.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 CORRESPONDENCE OTHERS 12-10-2010.pdf

    1819-CHENP-2007 FORM-13 22-09-2008.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-abstract.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-claims.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-correspondnece-others.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-description(complete).pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-drawings.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-form 1.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-form 3.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-form 5.pdf

    1819-chenp-2007-pct.pdf


    Patent Number 248497
    Indian Patent Application Number 1819/CHENP/2007
    PG Journal Number 29/2011
    Publication Date 22-Jul-2011
    Grant Date 20-Jul-2011
    Date of Filing 30-Apr-2007
    Name of Patentee COLLPLANT LTD.
    Applicant Address P.O. Box 408, South Industry Zone, 11013 Kiryat-Shmona
    Inventors:
    # Inventor's Name Inventor's Address
    1 SHOSEYOV, Oded 5 Erez Street, 99797 Karme Yossef
    2 STEIN, Hanan 10 HaTavor Street, 74019 Nes-Ziona
    PCT International Classification Number C12N 15/82
    PCT International Application Number PCT/IL2005/001045
    PCT International Filing date 2005-09-28
    PCT Conventions:
    # PCT Application Number Date of Convention Priority Country
    1 60/613,719 2004-09-29 U.S.A.