Disclosed are systems and methods for coupling translation of a target gene to a detectable response gene. A version of the invention includes a translation-coupling cassette. The translation-coupling cassette includes a target gene, a response gene, a response-gene translation control element, and a secondary structure-forming sequence that reversibly forms a secondary structure masking the response-gene translation control element. Masking of the response-gene translation control element inhibits translation of the response gene. Full translation of the target gene results in unfolding of the secondary structure and consequent translation of the response gene. Translation of the target gene is determined by detecting presence of the response-gene protein product. The invention further includes RNA transcripts of the translation-coupling cassettes, vectors comprising the translation-coupling cassettes, hosts comprising the translation-coupling cassettes, methods of using the translation-coupling cassettes, and gene products produced with the translation-coupling cassettes.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with United States government support awarded by the following agencies: U.S. Department of Energy, DE-FC02-07ER64494. The United States government has certain rights in this invention.