Innovation and Partnerships Office

Selective Modification of Proteins 2015-038


  • Pharmaceutical therapeutics
  • Biochemical sensors
  • Building blocks for bio-based materials


  • Provides well defined method of modification
  • Site specific
  • Allows for control of the degree of modification


Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the University of California, Berkeley have developed a technology to select and modify proteins using a special chromatography resin. The process begins with the addition of a chemical handle to the molecule of interest followed by the purification of the desired bioconjugate and ends with the modification of the handle in order to transform the bioconjugate into the desired product. The absorbance spectra of the samples are then gathered to measure the total degree of modification throughout the final product.

The technology was tested with a specific reaction aimed at the creation of artificial systems for light harvesting. In this reaction, azo compound handles are used to modify β-Cyclodextrin molecules. The β-Cyclodextrin molecules are capable of being modified at three separate sites, with either 0, 1, 2, or 3 azo compounds present in the final protein. The emission spectra of the final sample was measured in order to ascertain the relative amounts of each species present.

The selective modification of proteins allows for the creation of new biosynthetic materials that can be utilized in a variety of ways. Pharmaceutical therapies and chemical signaling agents rely on making selective changes to existing molecules. These small additions allow proteins to function in new ways by changing the chemical environment of the surrounding molecules. The creation of new proteins through controlled structural modifications provides the foundation for basic chemical research.

STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: The researchers tested the technology in a specific and measurable application involving the synthesis of light harvesting systems.

Kwant, R., Jaffe, J., Palmere, P., Francis, M. “Controlled levels of protein modification through a chromotography-mediated bioconjungation.” Chem. Sci., 6, 2596-2601.