A genetically encoded acrylamide functionality. Academic Article uri icon


  • N-Acryloyl-l-lysine, a noncanonical amino acid with an electron deficient olefin, is genetically encoded in Escherichia coli using a pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase mutant in coordination with tRNACUAPyl. The acrylamide moiety is stable in cells, whereas it is active enough to perform a diverse set of unique reactions for protein modifications in vitro. These reactions include 1,4-addition, radical polymerization, and 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition. We demonstrate that a protein incorporated with N-acryloyl-l-lysine is efficiently modified with thiol-containing nucleophiles at slightly alkali conditions, and the acrylamide moiety also allows rapid radical copolymerization of the same protein into a polyacrylamide hydrogel at physiological pH. At physiological conditions, the acrylamide functionality undergoes a fast 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction with diaryl nitrile imine to show turn-on fluorescence. We have used this observation to demonstrate site-specific fluorescent labeling of proteins incorporated with N-acryloyl-l-lysine both in vitro and in living cells. This critical development allows easy access to an array of modified proteins for applications where high specificity and reaction efficiency are needed.

published proceedings

  • ACS Chem Biol

altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, Y., Wu, B. o., Raymond, J. E., Zeng, Y. u., Fang, X., Wooley, K. L., & Liu, W. R.

citation count

  • 83

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Yan-Jiun||Wu, Bo||Raymond, Jeffrey E||Zeng, Yu||Fang, Xinqiang||Wooley, Karen L||Liu, Wenshe R

publication date

  • August 2013