ISPE Glossary of Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Terminology

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Baculoviruses are a class of insect virus which have been used to make DNA cloning vectors for gene expression in eukaryotic cells. Baculoviruses have a gene which is expressed at very high levels late in their infection cycle, filling the nucleus of the cell with many-sided bodies full of a protein which is not needed to produce more viruses, but is necessary for the virus’s spread in the wild. In a vector cloning system, this gene is replaced by one that the biotechnologist wants expressed.

Production of the protein can be up to 50% of the cells’ protein content, and several proteins can be made simultaneously, so that multi-sub-unit enzymes can be made by this system. Being an animal expression system, baculoviruses produce proteins that are glycosylated (addition of carbohydrates) like the proteins in animals, making it an attractive option for the production of biopharmaceuticals. In addition, baculoviruses are non-infective and non-pathogenic to vertebrates.

Publication Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publication Date: 1999

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