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What is Plasmid Design?

In the early days of genetic engineerings, the limits of cloning technologies forced biologists to work with a limited number of plasmids. In other words, all they could do was to insert a gene into existing expression vectors. Although vendors of research tools developed large catalogs of plasmids,  we were still confined to a cookie-cutter approach. In this perspective, most biologists gave little thought to the design of the vectors they used in their projects.

Even though the use of standard vectors remains popular, rapid progress in DNA fabrication makes it possible to think of expression vectors in a different way. Instead of squeezing a gene of interest in an existing vector, it becomes possible to design custom plasmids around a gene of interest.


Naturally, it does not make sense to design custom plasmids unless there is a possible upside. The benefits of designing custom plasmids depend on the project specifics. Generally, difficult-to-expression proteins or complex projects that require the coexpression of several genes can most benefit from customized plasmids. In addition, projects using non-standard hosts are also good candidates.

The most common benefits of a plasmid design efforts include:

  • Data-driven optimization of plasmid performance
  • Reduced plasmid size that increases transformation efficiency
  • Removal of legacy sequences that can have un
  • Creation of new intellectual property

Plasmid Design Process

We will design your plasmids using the GenoCAD design tool. Your project will go through a rigorous process that goes through several steps.

  1. Understand your project objectives.
  2. Make a list of genetic elements that can be used in your vector.
  3. Capture a set of design rules describing how these elements can be combined.
  4. Generate the sequence of one or more plasmids.

This process is collaborative. In particular, we strive to capture the expertise and know-how of your team. We are also mindful of the intellectual property landscape of your business. However, we will also suggest approaches that your team would not have thought of.