Since the development of methods for inserting and expressing genes in baculoviruses, a line of research has focused on developing recombinant baculoviruses that express insecticidal peptides and proteins. These recombinant viruses have been engineered with the goal of improving their pesticidal potential by shortening the time required for infection to kill or incapacitate insect pests and reducing the quantity of crop damage as a consequence. A wide variety of neurotoxic peptides, proteins that regulate insect physiology, degradative enzymes, and other potentially insecticidal proteins have been evaluated for their capacity to reduce the survival time of baculovirus-infected lepidopteran host larvae. Researchers have investigated the factors involved in the efficient expression and delivery of baculovirus-encoded insecticidal peptides and proteins, with much effort dedicated to identifying ideal promoters for driving transcription and signal peptides that mediate secretion of the expressed target protein. Other factors, particularly translational efficiency of transcripts derived from recombinant insecticidal genes and post-translational folding and processing of insecticidal proteins, remain relatively unexplored. The discovery of RNA interference as a gene-specific regulation mechanism offers a new approach for improvement of baculovirus biopesticidal efficacy through genetic modification.
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