Design and construction of 2A peptide-linked multicistronic vectors

Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2012 Feb 1;2012(2):199-204. doi: 10.1101/pdb.ip067876.


The need for reliable, multicistronic vectors for multigene delivery is at the forefront of biomedical technology. This article describes the design and construction of 2A peptide-linked multicistronic vectors, which can be used to express multiple proteins from a single open reading frame (ORF). The small 2A peptide sequences, when cloned between genes, allow for efficient, stoichiometric production of discrete protein products within a single vector through a novel "cleavage" event within the 2A peptide sequence. Expression of more than two genes using conventional approaches has several limitations, most notably imbalanced protein expression and large size. The use of 2A peptide sequences alleviates these concerns. They are small (18-22 amino acids) and have divergent amino-terminal sequences, which minimizes the chance for homologous recombination and allows for multiple, different 2A peptide sequences to be used within a single vector. Importantly, separation of genes placed between 2A peptide sequences is nearly 100%, which allows for stoichiometric and concordant expression of the genes, regardless of the order of placement within the vector.

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression*
  • Genes
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteolysis
  • Ribosomes / metabolism


  • Peptides