The insect cell/baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) is becoming increasingly popular for the production of recombinant proteins. The system offers a number of advantages, including:

  • Able to perform complex post-translational modifications (PTMs)
  • High success rate of soluble protein recovery
  • Suitable for the production of large protein complexes
  • High protein expression levels compared to other higher eukaryotes

The ability of insect cell/BEVS to generate proteins with complex PTMs, coupled with high expression levels, makes it particularly suitable for the production of mammalian proteins.

Insect cell/BEVS utilises the naturally occurring baculovirus, Autographa californica multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV), which infects insects from the Lepidopteran genus (moths and butterflies). Late in the infection cycle, the virus produces large amounts of polyhedral or inclusion bodies in the insect host, typically around 50% of the total cellular protein. This is exploited in the BEVS, where insect cells are infected with a modified AcMNPV carrying the recombinant gene of interest under control of the strong polyhedrin promoter (polh).