UNIT 16.15 Overview of the Vaccinia Virus Expression System

  1. Bernard Moss,
  2. Patricia L. Earl

Published Online: 1 NOV 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0471142727.mb1615s60

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

How to Cite

Moss, B. and Earl, P. L. 2002. Overview of the Vaccinia Virus Expression System. Current Protocols in Molecular Biology. 60:III:16.15:16.15.1–16.15.5.

Author Information

  1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2002
  2. Published Print: OCT 2002


The vaccinia virus expression system differs from others in that transcription occurs in the cytoplasm of mammalian cells rather than in the nucleus. As a vector, vaccinia virus has a number of useful characteristics, including a capacity that permits cloning large fragments of foreign DNA (20+ kbp) with retention of infectivity, a wide host range, a relatively high level of protein synthesis, and “appropriate” transport, secretion, processing, and posttranslational modifications as dictated by the primary structure of the expressed protein and the cell type used. This overview discusses the life cycle of the vaccinia virus along with effects of vaccinia infection. The vaccinia vector expression system is described along with specific steps for expressing genes using these vectors. Important safety considerations are also presented.