Genetic Incorporation of Two Mutually Orthogonal Bioorthogonal Amino Acids That Enable Efficient Protein Dual-Labeling in Cells

ACS Chem Biol. 2021 Nov 19;16(11):2612-2622. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.1c00649. Epub 2021 Sep 30.


The ability to site-specifically modify proteins at multiple sites in vivo will enable the study of protein function in its native environment with unprecedented levels of detail. Here, we present a versatile two-step strategy to meet this goal involving site-specific encoding of two distinct noncanonical amino acids bearing bioorthogonal handles into proteins in vivo followed by mutually orthogonal labeling. This general approach, that we call dual encoding and labeling (DEAL), allowed us to efficiently encode tetrazine- and azide-bearing amino acids into a protein and demonstrate for the first time that the bioorthogonal labeling reactions with strained alkene and alkyne labels can function simultaneously and intracellularly with high yields when site-specifically encoded in a single protein. Using our DEAL system, we were able to perform topologically defined protein-protein cross-linking, intramolecular stapling, and site-specific installation of fluorophores all inside living Escherichia coli cells, as well as study the DNA-binding properties of yeast Replication Protein A in vitro. By enabling the efficient dual modification of proteins in vivo, this DEAL approach provides a tool for the characterization and engineering of proteins in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.