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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32510. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032510. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Construction of a baculovirus-silkworm multigene expression system and its application on producing virus-like particles.

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China-United Kingdom Nanyang Normal University-Rothamsted Research Joint Laboratory of Insect Biology, Henan Provincial Key Laboratory of Funiu Mountain Insect Biology, Nanyang Normal University, Nanyang, People's Republic of China.


A new baculovirus-silkworm multigene expression system named Bombyx mori MultiBac is developed and described here, by which multiple expression cassettes can be introduced into the Bombyx mori nuclear polyhedrosis virus (BmNPV) genome efficiently. The system consists of three donor vectors (pCTdual, pRADM and pUCDMIG) and an invasive diaminopimelate (DAP) auxotrophic recipient E. coli containing BmNPV-Bacmid (BmBacmid) with a homologous recombination region, an attTn7 site and a loxp site. Two genes carried by pCTdual are firstly inserted into BmBacmid by homologous recombination, while the other eight genes in pRADM and pUCDMIG are introduced into BmBacmid through Tn7 transposition and cre-loxp recombination. Then the invasive and DAP auxotrophic E. coli carrying recombinant BmBacmid is directly injected into silkworm for expressing heterologous genes in larvae or pupae. Three structural genes of rotavirus and three fluorescent genes have been simultaneously expressed in silkworm larvae using our new system, resulting in the formation of virus-like particles (VLPs) of rotavirus and the color change of larvae. The VLPs were purified from hemolymph by ultracentrifugation using CsCl gradients, with a yield of 12.7 µg per larva. For the great capacity of foreign genes and the low cost of feeding silkworm, this high efficient BmMultiBac expression system provides a suitable platform to produce VLPs or protein complexes.

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