Highly selective lysine acylation in proteins using a Lys-His tag sequence

Christian Kofoed, Shunliang Wu, Kasper K. Sørensen, Tuule Treiberg, Johnny Arnsdorf, Sara P. Bjørn, Tanja L. Jensen, Bjørn G. Voldborg, Mikkel B. Thygesen, Knud J. Jensen, Sanne Schoffelen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Chemical modification of proteins has numerous applications, but it has been challenging to achieve the required high degree of selectivity on lysine amino groups. Recently, we described the highly selective acylation of proteins with an N-terminal Gly-His6 segment. This tag promoted acylation of the N-terminal Nα -amine resulting in stable conjugates. Here, we report the peptide sequences Hisn-Lys-Hism , which we term Lys-His tags. In combination with simple acylating agents, they facilitate the acylation of the designated Lys Nε-amine under mild conditions and with high selectivity over native Lys residues. We show that the Lys-His tags, which are 7 to 10 amino acids in length and still act as conventional His tags, can be inserted in proteins at the C-terminus or in loops, thus providing high flexibility regarding the site of modification. Finally, the selective and efficient acylation of the therapeutic antibody Rituximab, pure or mixed with other proteins, demonstrates the scope of the Lys-His tag acylation method.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number15
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Acylation
  • Antibodies
  • Chemical biology
  • Peptide tags
  • Site-selective protein modification


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