Baculovirus transduction is a gene transfer method that uses a moth cell virus for mammalian cells in culture, which results in a high-level prolonged expression. Here we demonstrate that recombinant baculoviruses can serve as efficient gene transfer vehicles for delivering foreign genes driven by mammalian promoters into human and mouse pancreatic islet cells. Existing methods, such as various transfection and electroporation techniques, either suffer from low efficiency or cause extensive membrane damage. Viral vectors have emerged as an important tool for gene delivery and expression in mammalian cells but suffer from several drawbacks, such as lengthy construction time and expression of viral genes. The baculovirus Autographa californica multiple nuclear polyhedrosis virus is widely used as a vector for expression of foreign genes in insect cells and, more recently, in some mammalian cells. Using several green fluorescent protein- and LacZ-expressing constructs in a cytomegalovirus promoter cassette, we obtained efficient gene expression in primary human and mouse islet cells. There was no impairment of glucose-stimulated intracellular free calcium responses after baculovirus infection. The safety and the relative ease of construction and propagation of the virus makes the baculovirus system a useful tool for facilitating the transfer of foreign genes.

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