Infoscience

Journal article

A novel method for quantitative measurements of gene expression in single living cells

Gene expression is at the heart of virtually any biological process, and its deregulation is at the source of numerous pathological conditions. While impressive progress has been made in genome-wide measurements of mRNA and protein expression levels, it is still challenging to obtain highly quantitative measurements in single living cells. Here we describe a novel approach based on internal tagging of endogenous proteins with a reporter allowing luminescence and fluorescence time-lapse microscopy. Using luminescence microscopy, fluctuations of protein expression levels can be monitored in single living cells with high sensitivity and temporal resolution over extended time periods. The integrated protein decay reporter allows measuring protein degradation rates in the absence of protein synthesis inhibitors, and in combination with absolute protein levels allows determining absolute amounts of proteins synthesized over the cell cycle. Finally, the internal tag can be excised by inducible expression of Cre recombinase, which enables to estimate endogenous mRNA half-lives. Our method thus opens new avenues in quantitative analysis of gene expression in single living cells. (C) 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.

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