Baculovirus Insect Cell Expression System


The baculovirus insect cell expression system is based on the use of recombinant baculoviruses (insect viruses) and their ability to produce high levels of biologically active proteins in cultured insect cells or insect larvae. These viruses have very late genes (polyhedrin, P10), which are highly expressed due to very strong promoters, but are dispensable for infectious virus formation. Deletion of these genes and replacement with foreign genes convert these viruses into expression vectors for the production of recombinant proteins. Convenient systems (bacmids) are available for engineering these baculovirus recombinants in bacteria prior to transfection into insect cells. The proteins produced can be easily purified from infected cells or their supernatants using tags and affinity chromatography. The proteins can be used for human and veterinary applications, such as vaccines and diagnostics.

Keywords: eukaryotic expression systems; insect cell technology; virology; diagnostics; subunit vaccines

Figure 1.

Baculovirus insect cell expression system. In cells infected with a wild‐type virus (a) large amounts of polyhedra and p10 are formed. In most cases in the recombinant virus (b) the polyhedrin and/or p10 promoter is used to drive the expression of a foreign gene and the gene cassette replaces the polyhedrin gene, resulting in a recombinant with a polyhedron‐negative phenotype and (c) high levels of recombinant protein are produced in stead of polyhedrin (lanes 1 and 2).



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van Oers, Monique M, and Vlak, Just M(Dec 2008) Baculovirus Insect Cell Expression System. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002660.pub2]