What is VectorBuilder?

VectorBuilder is a revolutionary online platform for researchers to easily obtain customized DNA vectors and related reagents tailored to their research needs. You can follow a highly intuitive workflow on VectorBuilder to design your desired vector with just a few mouse clicks, all for free. You can then order services related to your vector, such as custom cloning and virus packaging, as easily as you can order books on Amazon. The cost and turnaround time of these services are just a fraction of what it would cost you if you were to do it yourself. Below are key highlights of VectorBuilder.

Diversity of vectors: You can create vectors for virtually any research needs on VectorBuilder. You can choose from a variety of vector systems, such as regular plasmid, lentivirus, adenovirus, adeno-associated virus, MMLV, baculovirus, piggyBac, Tol2, and vectors for expressing genes in bacteria, yeast and plant. These vectors can be adapted for overexpression, inducible expression, knockdown, knockout, and enhancer analysis in a variety of model organisms.

Learn more about our vector systems

Expansive databases of vector components: You can design your vectors using our expansive collections of vector components such as promoters, ORFs, epitope tags, shRNAs and gRNAs, saving you time and effort in finding them on your own.

Learn more about our vector components

We can design vectors for you: If you have trouble designing your vector on VectorBuilder, just send us a design request, and our highly experienced scientists will design it for you for free.

Rich annotation of vectors: Once a vector is designed, it can be viewed in a richly annotated manner where detailed descriptions and application notes are provided for all the components on your vector. You can also download a full report of your vector in PDF format containing publication-ready graphics, or in GenBank format that can be viewed in any text editor and imported by most vector design software.

Highly affordable price: Our vector cloning and virus packaging services are priced extremely affordably. The cost to purchase these services from us is typically a fraction of what it would cost you to do it yourself.

Rapid turnaround: You can receive your vector within days in the case of simple designs. Typically, our turnaround time is much faster than what you can do on your own.

Easy purchasing procedure: You can use our online transaction system to quickly obtain quotes, place orders, and make payments, as easily as ordering books on Amazon.

Rich educational materials: VectorBuilder strives to be a community resource for all things related to vectors. Comprehensive educational materials on all our vector systems and vector components are provided under Learning Center on the menu bar.

Bioinformatic tools: VectorBuilder offers many free bioinformatics tools to assist you in designing and analyzing your vectors, such as sequence alignment, shRNA target design, and gRNA off-target analysis. These tools are placed under Tools on the menu bar.

Easy management of your account: You can save your vector designs to your account. When you generate quotes or place orders, records of these activities will be automatically saved to your account.

How to design a vector on VectorBuilder?

You can get a custom vector designed in two ways. One is to design it yourself using VectorBuilder’s incredibly easy and intuitive online design tool. To do so, just click Design My Vector on VectorBuilder’s homepage, and follow the step-by-step workflow from there. You can design pretty much any vector you need (e.g. regular plasmid, lentivirus, adenovirus, overexpression, shRNA, gRNA, etc.) in a matter of minutes with just a few mouse clicks. But if you are unable to design your desired vector on your own, you can also send us a design request by clicking Send Design Request on the homepage, and we will design the vector for you for free. Details of the design workflow are described below.

Designing your own vectors on VectorBuilder

Step 1:

On VectorBuilder’s homepage, click Design My Vector, and you will be taken to the Choose Vector System page. Here, you will see a comprehensive list of available vector systems. You can then select your desired vector system by clicking the Go to Design button next to it. For example, if you want to design a lentiviral vector for expressing your gene of interest in mammalian cells, you would click the Go to Design button next to Lentivirus under the Mammalian Gene Expression Vectors section.

Detailed technical information for all our vector systems is available in the Guide to Vector Systems page.

Step 2:

Upon selecting a vector system, you will enter the Vector Design Studio page. Here, you will be presented with a map for the vector system of your choice. Two types of components are marked on the map. One is fixed components that you cannot change, which serve as the backbone of the vector. The other is custom components that you can add onto the backbone. You can enter your custom components one by one, such as the promoter for driving gene expression, the ORF to be placed behind the promoter, and accessory features such as the drug-selection marker or fluorescent reporter. When adding a component, you will have the option of selecting it from VectorBuilder’s component database or pasting your own sequence. When adding an ORF, you will also have the option to insert epitope tags or introduce mutations to the ORF. Below are some useful tips:

Selecting a component from database: Our extensive component databases contain two categories of sequences. One is popular components presented to you as a list for you to easily choose from (e.g. popular promoters such as CMV, EF1A and CAG). The other is gene-based databases for ORFs, shRNAs and gRNAs, which you can search by gene name and species to retrieve the component corresponding to your gene of interest. For example, if you wish to design a lentiviral vector that expresses the human BMP2 gene, then in the drop-down menu of the Add ORF step, you will need to choose Select from ORF database and search for human BMP2. The search should return a list of all the RefSeq transcripts for this gene, one of which is recommended by VectorBuilder. You can then select the ORF of one of these transcripts to add to your vector. You can also edit the ORF sequence (e.g. inserting epitope tags or introducing mutations into the ORF) before adding it to the vector.

Detailed technical information is available for all our popular components in the Guide to Vector Components page.

ORF editing capability: You can insert epitope tags or introduce point mutations into your ORF. You can do so after you have already added an ORF to your vector. Just click on the name of the ORF on the vector map and choose Edit ORF from the drop-down menu. This should open up a sequence editor window where you can make changes. Click the Add tag button below the sequence to reveal a popular set of tags that you can choose from to append to either the N or C terminus of your ORF. You can also directly edit your sequence by typing or deleting nucleotides. If you are editing a component retrieved from VectorBuilder’s database, then all edits will be tracked to record the changes you made relative to the original reference sequence. In the sequence editor window, there are other handy functions for you to use, such as translating nucleotide sequence into amino acid sequence, finding ORFs, and showing the sequence of the reverse-complementary strand.

Placing multiple ORFs behind a single promoter: When you design a gene expression vector, you can place up to 4 ORFs behind a promoter as a polycistron. The multiple ORFs can be expressed as a single fusion protein, or as distinct proteins separated by 2A or IRES linkers. The Select number of ORFs option on the upper-left corner of the Vector Design Studio window allows you to set the number of ORFs that you wish to place behind the promoter.

Step 3:
Once you are done designing your vector, click Finish Design, and you will be taken to the Vector Information page, where you can view the fully annotated map and sequence of the vector, add it to your shopping cart, save it to your account, or share it with your colleagues. You can also download a full report of the vector in PDF format containing publication-ready graphics, or in GenBank format that can be viewed in any text editor and imported by most vector design software.

Asking us to design vectors for you

Sometimes, you may have trouble designing your vector on VectorBuilder (for example, you need to use a backbone not available on VectorBuilder). Then just go to VectorBuilder’s homepage, and click Send Design Request to submit a description of your desired vector. Our highly experienced scientists will design it for you for free, and send the design to you along with price and turnaround information in case you wish to order cloning service.

Retrieving vector information

A unique vector ID is automatically assigned to any vector created on VectorBuilder (for details, see How is vector ID assigned? on this page). You can use this ID to retrieve full information about the vector through the Retrieve Vector Information link on VectorBuilder’s homepage.

What services do VectorBuilder offer and how to request them?

VectorBuilder offers a variety of cloning and related services that include the following:

Descriptions of these services are listed under the Services menu item. Should you be interested in applying your vectors to in vivo studies, VectorBuilder’s sister company, Cyagen Biosciences, offers a wide range of animal model services such as transgenics, knockouts and knockins.

Requesting vector construction service

When you design a relatively simple vector on VectorBuilder, the price and turnaround time for cloning the vector will be automatically calculated and shown on the Vector Information page, so you can immediately add the vector construction service to your shopping cart. For complex vectors, the price and turnaround information may not be available automatically, but you can click the Get Price button on the Vector Information page, and we will evaluate your vector and send you price and turnaround information for cloning the vector. If you ask our scientists to design a vector for you, price and turnaround time for the vector construction service will be provided along with the design. The deliverable for vector construction service is E. coli stock containing the vector.

Requesting services downstream of vector construction (e.g. virus packaging)

When ordering vector construction service, you will have the option to add related downstream services, such as plasmid DNA preparation, RNA preparation (in the case of CRISPR vectors), and virus packaging (in the case of viral vectors).

Requesting other services

To request other services such as BAC modification (recombineering) and library construction, just go to the homepage and click Send Design Request to submit a description of the service you need. We will process your request and get back to you within a day or two with a service proposal, price and turnaround information. You can then add the service to your shopping cart.

If you already have your viral vector made elsewhere and only want to order virus packaging service from VectorBuilder using your own plasmid, you can also do so through the Send Design Request link.

For every service proposal we create for you, there is a unique service proposal ID, which you can use to retrieve the full information of the proposal through the Retrieve Service Proposal link on the homepage. If none of the above services matches your need, or if you have questions regarding our services, you can send in your inquires through the Send Design Request link. You can also contact us by email or phone via the contact info available under the menu item Support > Contact.

How to place an order?

The shopping cart page provides the following two options for you to place an order for the content of the cart.

Option 1:
If you rely on your institution’s purchasing department to place an order, click Generate Quote to create an official quote for items in your cart. You can apply a promotion code toward the purchasing price when generating the quote. Once the official quote is created, you can download it. An email with the quote will also be automatically sent to you. You can view all your quotes by going to menu item My Account > Quotes. Once you have your quote, you can forward it to your purchasing manager to place the order. The quote contains detailed instructions on how to place the order. Your purchasing manager can either immediately pay the balance indicated on the quote by credit card online when placing the order, or submit a purchasing order (PO) first and get billed later.
Option 2:
If you have the authority to make an immediate purchase with a credit card, click Purchase Now, and you will be taken through the credit card payment procedure. Again, you will have the opportunity to apply a promotion code toward the purchase. This option is the fastest and guaranteed way to place an order.

Once an order is successfully submitted, an order confirmation email will be sent to you with an order receipt attached. Your project is then initiated. If something goes wrong with your project, we will contact you by email. You can check the status of your order by going to menu item My Account > Orders. Once we finish your project and ship out the order, you will be notified by email, including the tracking number of the shipment.

How to use my account?

Registering a VectorBuilder account provides you with many benefits. With an account, you can:

  • Save your vector designs
  • Manage your past inquires and requests
  • Manage your past quotes and orders

To register an account, just click Register at the top of VectorBuilder’s menu bar, and follow the instructions.

Save your vector designs

When viewing details of a vector design on the Vector Information page, you can save the design to your account by clicking the Save This Vector button. When you are logged into your account, all the vectors that you put into your shopping cart will be automatically saved to your account. You can view all your saved vectors by going to menu item My Account > Vectors.

Manage your inquiries and requests

When you design a complex vector for which price cannot to automatically calculated by VectorBuilder, you will need to submit a price inquiry by clicking the Get Price button on the Vector Information page. Such inquiries will be automatically saved to your account. You can view all your past price inquires by going to menu item My Account > Price Inquiries. You can open individual inquires and leave messages there for us.

All service requests submitted through the Send Design Request link on VectorBuilder’s homepage will also be saved into your account. You can view all your past requests by going to menu item My Account > Design Requests. You can open individual requests and leave messages there for us.

Manage your quotes and orders

All the quotes you have generated are saved to your account, and can be viewed by going to menu item My Account > Quotes. The same is true for all your orders under My Account > Orders.

How to obtain technical information on vectors?

VectorBuilder strives to be a community resource for all things related to vectors. Comprehensive educational materials on our vector systems and vector components are provided under Learning Center on the menu bar, including:

  • Guide to Vector Systems: This page describes all the vector systems available on VectorBuilder.
  • Guide to Vector Components: This page describes all the popular components offered by VectorBuilder.
  • Vector FAQ: This page addresses many questions that users frequently encounter when designing and using vectors.

VectorBuilder also offers many free bioinformatics tools to assist you in designing and analyzing your vectors, such as sequence alignment, shRNA target design, and gRNA off-target analysis. These tools are placed under Tools on the menu bar.

If none of these materials provides the information you need, you can also contact us by email or phone via the contact info available under the menu item Support > Contact.

How is vector ID assigned?

Each vector created on VectorBuilder is assigned a unique vector ID. You can use this ID to retrieve full information about the vector through the Retrieve Vector Information link on VectorBuilder’s homepage. It can also be used to reference the vector in publications.

All vector IDs start with “VB”. Rules for assigning vector ID are illustrated using the example below.

   Vector ID: VB160903-1018vur

   Interpretations:

        160903: Date (yymmdd) that vector is designed.

        1018: Vector’s serial number.

        vur: Three randomly generated letters to anonymize the ID.

After you have created a vector on VectorBuilder, you can edit its design by clicking the Back to Edit button on the Vector Information page, but the edited design will result in a new vector ID rather than changing the design under the existing ID. This ensures that once a vector ID is created, it is permanently linked to the same original design.

How is vector name assigned?

Components used in a vector (e.g. promoters & ORFs) are automatically assigned names in most cases. These component names are then automatically assembled to produce the final vector name. Rules for assigning names are described below.

Rules for assigning names to vector components (e.g. promoters, ORFs or linkers)

  • Components from VectorBuilder's popular component collections: The component's common name is used.
    Example: CMV, EGFP, Neo

  • ORFs retrieved from VectorBuilder's gene-based databases: Gene symbol followed by RefSeq accession number or VectorBuilder ORF collection number in brackets is used as name. A species abbreviation in lower case is added in front of the gene symbol following the rules below:

    • Human, mouse and rat are assigned single-letter abbreviations “h”, “m” and “r”, respectively.
    • Many additional common species are assigned two-letter abbreviations. For example, cat is “ct”, chimpanzee is “ch”, and dog is “dg”.
    • Less common species use three-letter abbreviations of their scientific names, followed by an underscore. The first letter in the abbreviation corresponds to the first letter of the genus name, and the next two letters in the abbreviation correspond to the first two letters of the species name. For example, Drosophila melanogaster is “dme_”.
    Example of a human ORF from NCBI RefSeq collection: hRHO[NM_000539.3]
    Example of a mouse ORF from VectorBuilder ORF collection: mRho[ORF032112]
    Example of a Drosophila melanogaster ORF from NCBI RefSeq collection: dme_w[NM_057439.2]
  • Sequences pasted by user: User must define the name of their pasted sequence in order to add the sequence to the vector. User defined name will be shown in braces. Please note that if the user pasted a sequence that has 100% sequence identity to a component in VectorBuilder’s databases, the component name will be automatically set to the official name of the VectorBuilder component.
    Example of a user pasted component: {MyGene}

  • ORF from VectorBuilder’s database that is edited by user: When an ORF retrieved from VectorBuilder’s ORF database has been edited by the user to introduce mutations, a * will be automatically added next to the official ORF name to indicate that the ORF sequence is mutated. The user can then choose to use this name or change it to a different name. If the user chooses to change the name, braces will be added to indicate that the name is defined by the user. Please note that epitope tags added to an ORF through the Add Tag function are not considered as mutations. Example of an ORF from VectorBuilder’s database that is edited by user: hRHO[NM_000539.3]* for automatically assigned name, which can be changed by the user to another name such as {MyGene}

Rules for allowing users to change automatically assigned names

In order to ensure consistency, users cannot change automatically assigned component names under most circumstances. But there are a few exceptions as listed below:

  • When a component’s sequence is pasted by the user, the user must assign a name for it. Braces will be added to indicate that the name is defined by the user.
  • When an ORF retrieved from VectorBuilder’s ORF database has been edited by the user to introduce mutations, a * will be automatically added next to the official ORF name. The user can choose to use this name or change it to a different name. If the user chooses to change the name, braces will be added to indicate that the name is defined by the user.

Rules for assigning vector names

  • All vector names begin with the letter “p”.
  • Abbreviation for vector backbone is given after the letter “p”. Below are examples of commonly used backbones:
    RP: Regular plasmid
    LV: Lentivirus
    MMLV: MMLV retrovirus
    AV: Adenovirus
    AAV: Adeno-associated virus
    PB: PiggyBac transposon
    Tol2: Tol2 transposon
    ET, BAD or CS: Various bacterial expression vectors
    SC: Saccharomyces cerevisiae
    BV: Baculovirus
  • Abbreviations for biological applications, if applicable, is given in brackets after the vector backbone abbreviation. Below are examples of common biological applications:
    Exp: A vector for expressing a gene of interest
    shRNA: A vector for expressing shRNA for use in knockdown
    gRNA: A vector for expressing gRNA for use in the CRISPR system
    En: A vector for testing enhancer activity

Rules for assembling vector name as illustrated by an example

Vector name: pLV[Exp]-Hygro-CMV>FLAG/hRHO[NM_000539.3]*/10xHis:IRES:3xNLS/EGFP/HA

Interpretations:

LV: Vector backbone is lentivirus.

Exp: Biological application is mammalian gene expression.

Hygro: Marker gene is hygromycin B resistance gene.

CMV: Promoter for driving the gene of interest is CMV.

FLAG/hRHO[NM_000539.3]*/10xHis:IRES:3xNLS/EGFP/HA: The gene of interest is a polycistron containing multiple ORFs. The first ORF is hRHO[NM_000539.3], whose sequence is modified by the user (indicated by *), and is tagged with FLAG at the N terminus and 10xHis at the C terminus. It is followed by IRES, and then followed by the second ORF, which is EGFP tagged with 3xNLS at the N terminus and HA at the C terminus.

Species abbreviations

As described in “How is vector name assigned?”, species abbreviations are incorporated into official names assigned to ORFs retrieved from VectorBuilder’s gene-based ORF database. These abbreviations are listed in the table below.

Mammals
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Alpaca Vicugna pacos 30538 vpa_
Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus 9361 dno_
Bushbaby Otolemur garnettii 30611 oga_
Cat Felis catus 9685 ct
Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes 9598 ch
Cow Bos taurus 9913 cw
Dog Canis lupus familiaris 9615 dg
Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 9739 ttr_
Elephant Loxodonta africana 9785 laf_
Ferret Mustela putorius furo 9669 mpu_
Gibbon Nomascus leucogenys 61853 gi
Gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla 9595 go
Guinea pig Cavia porcellus 10141 cpo_
Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus 9365 eeu_
Horse Equus caballus 9796 ho
Hyrax Procavia capensis 9813 pca_
Kangaroo rat Dipodomys ordii 10020 dor_
Lesser hedgehog tenrec Echinops telfairi 9371 ete_
Macaque Macaca mulatta 9544 ma
Marmoset Callithrix jacchus 9483 cja_
Megabat Pteropus vampyrus 132908 pva_
Microbat Myotis lucifugus 59463 mlu_
Mouse lemur Microcebus murinus 30608 mmu_
Olive baboon Papio anubis 9555 pan_
Opossum Monodelphis domestica 13616 mdo_
Orangutan Pongo abelii 9601 or
Panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca 9646 pd
Pig Sus scrofa 9823 pg
Pika Ochotona princeps 9978 opr_
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus 9986 ra
Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus 9258 oan_
Sheep Ovis aries 9940 sh
Shrew Sorex araneus 42254 sar_
Sloth Choloepus hoffmanni 9358 cho_
Squirrel Ictidomys tridecemlineatus 43179 sq
Tasmanian devil Sarcophilus harrisii 9305 sha_
Tree shrew Tupaia belangeri 37347 tbe_
Vervet Chlorocebus sabaeus 60711 ve
Wallaby Macropus eugenii 9315 meu_
Birds
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Chicken Gallus gallus 9031 gga_
Duck Anas platyrhynchos 8839 apl_
Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis 59894 fal_
Turkey Meleagris gallopavo 9103 mga_
Zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata 59729 tgu_
Reptiles
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Anole lizard Anolis carolinensis 28377 aca_
Chinese softshell turtle Pelodiscus sinensis 13735 psi_
Amazon molly Poecilia formosa 48698 pfo_
Amphibians
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Western clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis 8364 xtr_
Fish
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Cave fish Astyanax mexicanus 7994 ame_
Cod Gadus morhua 8049 gmo_
Coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae 7897 lch_
Fugu Takifugu rubripes 31033 tru_
Lamprey Petromyzon marinus 7757 pma_
Medaka Oryzias latipes 8090 ola_
Platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus 8083 xma_
Spotted gar Lepisosteus oculatus 7918 loc_
Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus 69293 gac_
Tetraodon Tetraodon nigroviridis 99883 tni_
Tilapia Oreochromis niloticus 8128 oni_
Zebrafish Danio rerio 7955 dre_
Tunicates
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Vase tunicate Ciona intestinalis 7719 cin_
Solitary sea squirt Ciona savignyi 51511 csa_
Insects
Common name Scientific name Taxonomy ID VectorBuilder abbreviation
Fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster 7227 dme_

Can I obtain a copy of my vector’s QC and sequencing data?

Typically, we do not provide original QC or sequencing data, as it is stored in a high throughput information system and is time consuming to retrieve on an individual basis. However, we have full confidence in our production and QC procedures, and we guarantee that the vector you receive has the same sequence as you designed. If any discrepancy arises, we will ensure that it is corrected as soon as possible.

How to cite VectorBuilder’s vectors in publications?

When you publish a study utilizing a vector made by VectorBuilder, you should cite the vector ID in your paper because it is unique and can be used to retrieve details of the vector on VectorBuilder. You can also include vector name to add descriptive information about the vector. Besides, if you publish a study utilizing a service provided by VectorBuilder, please describe it in your paper. Below is an example:

"The lentiviral vector used to overexpress EGFP in our study, pLV[Exp]-Puro-EF1A>EGFP, was constructed and packaged by VectorBuilder (Cyagen Biosciences). The vector ID is VB160903-1018vur, which can be used to retrieve detailed information about the vector on vectorbuilder.com."