The baculoviruses are a family of large rod-shaped circular DNA viruses that are very species-specific among the invertebrates with over 600 host species having been described. Although baculoviruses are capable of entering many cell types, there is no evidence that they are capable of replication in vertebrate animal cells, including mammalian. Baculoviruses contain circular double-stranded genome ranging from 80–180 kbp.
In the 1990s, baculoviruses were first used to produce complex eukaryotic proteins in insect cell cultures (for example, Sf21). These recombinant proteins have been used in research and as vaccines in both human and veterinary medical treatments (for example, influenza vaccines). More recently, it has been described that engineered baculoviruses can be used to introduce genes into mammalian cells.
Baculoviruses are incapable of infecting and replicating in mammals and plants (1). They have a very restricted range of hosts that is limited to a number of closely related insect species. Because baculoviruses are not harmful to humans, they are considered a safe option for use in research applications.
(1) Ease of handling and production
(2) Insect cell culture is inexpensive
(3) Transient expression
(4) Do not replicate in human cells
(5) Large insert capacity (>38kb)
(6) Capable of delivering multiple genes
(1) Ignoffo CM. (1975) Baculoviruses for Insect Pest Control: Safety Considerations, Summers M, Engler R, Falcon LA, Vail PV (eds.) American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC.