E unum pluribus: multiple proteins from a self-processing polyprotein

Trends Biotechnol. 2006 Feb;24(2):68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2005.12.006. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


Many applications of genetic engineering require transformation with multiple (trans)genes, although to achieve these using conventional techniques can be challenging. The 2A oligopeptide is emerging as a highly effective new tool for the facile co-expression of multiple proteins in a single transformation step, whereby a gene encoding multiple proteins, linked by 2A sequences, is transcribed from a single promoter. The polyprotein self-processes co-translationally such that each constituent protein is generated as a discrete translation product. 2A functions in all the eukaryotic systems tested to date and has already been applied, with great success, to a broad range of biotechnological applications: from plant metabolome engineering to the expression of T-cell receptor complexes, monoclonal antibodies or heterodimeric cytokines in animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Polyproteins / genetics*
  • Protein Engineering* / methods
  • Protein Engineering* / trends
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Polyproteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Proteins