Protein complex expression by using multigene baculoviral vectors

Nat Methods. 2006 Dec;3(12):1021-32. doi: 10.1038/nmeth983.


Elucidation of the molecular basis of protein-interaction networks, in particular in higher eukaryotes, is hampered by insufficient quantities of endogenous multiprotein complexes. Present recombinant expression methods often require considerable investment in both labor and materials before multiprotein expression, and after expression and biochemical analysis these methods do not provide flexibility for expressing an altered multiprotein complex. To meet these demands, we have recently introduced MultiBac, a modular baculovirus-based system specifically designed for eukaryotic multiprotein expression. Here we describe new transfer vectors and a combination of DNA recombination-based methods, which further facilitate the generation of multigene cassettes for protein coexpression (Fig. 1), thus providing a flexible platform for generation of protein expression vectors and their rapid regeneration for revised expression studies. Genes encoding components of a multiprotein complex are inserted into a suite of compatible transfer vectors by homologous recombination. These progenitor constructs are then rapidly joined in the desired combination by Cre-loxP-mediated in vitro plasmid fusion. Protocols for integration of the resulting multigene expression cassettes into the MultiBac baculoviral genome are provided that rely on Tn7 transposition and/or Cre-loxP reaction carried out in vivo in Escherichia coli cells tailored for this purpose. Detailed guidelines for multigene virus generation and amplification, cell culture maintenance and protein production are provided, together with data illustrating the simplicity and remarkable robustness of the present method for multiprotein expression using a composite MultiBac baculoviral vector.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Baculoviridae / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Protein Engineering / methods*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transfection / methods*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Viral Proteins