Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the University of Zurich in Switzerland and European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in France have developed MultiLabel, a modular, plasmid-based multigene expression system. The modular design provides an efficient and cost-effective method to create transiently transfected mammalian cell lines with homogenous protein expression.
“Everyone who can clone can use MultiLabel,” said Philipp Berger, a researcher at PSI. “It’s very flexible and one of the huge advantages is that the whole system is modular. You have your expression cassettes and you can put them together in whatever combination you would like to have.”
Berger and his team inserted genes of interest into a donor or acceptor vector and then selected the successful plasmids by antibiotics before transfecting mammalian cells. The research team used fluorescent markers to demonstrate that the inserted genes were expressed simultaneously and specifically.
The plasmid can be inserted into a eukaryotic genome without using restriction enzymes or endonucleases. With earlier expression technologies, the necessary reagents were sometimes prohibitively expensive and the recognition sites often interfered with the cloning strategy. Furthermore, MultiLabel modified cells can create stable cell lines and the technique does not change intrinsic cell behavior. Berger envisions that this new cost-effective technique will become a standard method for researchers.
“MultiLabel could be a very powerful tool for analysis of gene combinations,” said Berger, “and we plan to distribute the vectors freely so that they spread to labs all over the world.”
The paper, “A plasmid-based multigene expression system for mammalian cells,” was published 16 Nov. 2010 in Nature Communications.