For rapid and accurate quantitation of recombinant proteins during expression and after purification, we introduce a new tagging strategy that expresses both target proteins and limitedly tagged target proteins together in a single cell at a constant ratio by utilizing cis-elements of programmed -1 ribosomal frameshifting (-1RFS) as an embedded device. -1RFS is an alternative reading mechanism that effectively controls protein expression by many viruses. When a target gene is fused to the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene with a -1RFS element implanted between them, the unfused target and the target-GFP fusion proteins are expressed at a fixed ratio. The expression ratio between these two protein products is adjustable simply by changing -1RFS signals. This limited-tagging system would be valuable for the real-time monitoring of protein expression when optimizing expression condition for a new protein, and in monitoring large-scale bioprocesses without a large metabolic burden on host cells. Furthermore, this strategy allows for the direct measurement of the quantity of a protein on a chip surface and easy application to proteomewide study of gene products. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 898–904. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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