Though DNA microarrays let researchers rapidly identify the expression levels of genes associated with diseases and pathways, they say little about how much protein these transcripts produce. A new patent (US 6,753,142) assigned to NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa, describes a method for fast protein profiling and quantification in any type of cell. The information obtained from the technique can be used to identify disease pathways and/or drug targets.

The method involves incorporating a polynucleotide encoding a promoter-less marker gene into the genome under study. The tag is expressed under the control of cellular promoters and is integrated into actively transcribed regions of the genome, resulting in the production of fusion proteins. Cells containing the markers can be sorted and quantified by a number of methods including fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), permitting "real time analysis of molecular pathways of activation," according to the patent's authors.

DNA, RNA, and protein can...

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