Baculovirus-insect cell expression systems

Methods Enzymol. 2009;463:191-222. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(09)63014-7.


In the early 1980s, the first-published reports of baculovirus-mediated foreign gene expression stimulated great interest in the use of baculovirus-insect cell systems for recombinant protein production. Initially, this system appeared to be the first that would be able to provide the high production levels associated with bacterial systems and the eukaryotic protein processing capabilities associated with mammalian systems. Experience and an increased understanding of basic insect cell biology have shown that these early expectations were not completely realistic. Nevertheless, baculovirus-insect cell expression systems have the capacity to produce many recombinant proteins at high levels and they also provide significant eukaryotic protein processing capabilities. Furthermore, important technological advances over the past 20 years have improved upon the original methods developed for the isolation of baculovirus expression vectors, which were inefficient, required at least some specialized expertise and, therefore, induced some frustration among those who used the original baculovirus-insect cell expression system. Today, virtually any investigator with basic molecular biology training can relatively quickly and efficiently isolate a recombinant baculovirus vector and use it to produce their favorite protein in an insect cell culture. This chapter will begin with background information on the basic baculovirus-insect cell expression system and will then focus on recent developments that have greatly facilitated the ability of an average investigator to take advantage of its attributes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Baculoviridae / genetics*
  • Baculoviridae / growth & development
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Microbiological Techniques / methods
  • Microbiological Techniques / trends
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Biology / methods
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics*
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Spodoptera / genetics
  • Spodoptera / growth & development
  • Spodoptera / virology*


  • Recombinant Proteins