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FLAG-tag, or FLAG octapeptide, is a polypeptide protein tag that can be added to a protein using recombinant DNA technology with sequence motif DYKXXD. It can be used for affinity chromatography, then used to separate recombinant, overexpressed protein from wild-type protein expressed by the host organism. It can also be used in the isolation of protein complexes with multiple subunits.

A FLAG-tag can be used in many different assays that require recognition by an antibody. If there is no antibody against the studied protein, adding a FLAG-tag to this protein allows one to follow the protein with an antibody against the FLAG sequence. Examples are cellular localization studies by immunofluorescence or detection by SDS PAGE protein electrophoresis.

The peptide sequence of the FLAG-tag from the N-terminus to the C-terminus is: DYKDDDDK (1012 Da). It can be used in conjunction with other affinity tags, for example a polyhistidine tag (His-tag), HA-tag or myc-tag. Additionally, it may be used in tandem, commonly the 3xFLAG peptide: DYKDHDG-DYKDHDI-DYKDDDDK (with the final tag encoding an enterokinase cleavage site). It can be fused to the C-terminus or the N-terminus of a protein. Some commercially available antibodies (e.g., M1/4E11) recognize the epitope only when it is present at the N-terminus. However, other available antibodies (e.g., M2) are position-insensitive.

The first use of epitope tagging was described by Munro and Pelham in 1984.[1] The FLAG-tag was the second example of a fully functional epitope tag to be published in the scientific literature[2][3][4] and was the only epitope tag to be patented.[5][6] Unlike some other tags (e.g. myc, HA), where a monoclonal antibody was first isolated against an existing protein, then the epitope was characterized and used as a tag, the FLAG epitope was designed first, and then monoclonals were raised to recognize it. The FLAG tag's structure has been optimized for compatibility with the proteins it is attached to, in that it is more hydrophilic than other common epitope tags and therefore less likely to denature or inactivate proteins to which it is appended. In addition, N-terminal FLAG tags can be removed readily from proteins once they have been isolated, by treatment with the specific protease, enterokinase (enteropeptidase).

The first published report of another epitope tagging method (HA-tag)[7] appeared about one year after the Flag system had been sent to laboratories throughout the world for beta-testing as a kit for recombinant protein production.


  1. ^ Munro, S; Pelham, HR (1984). "Use of peptide tagging to detect proteins expressed from cloned genes: Deletion mapping functional domains of Drosophila hsp 70". The EMBO Journal 3 (13): 3087–93. PMC 557822. PMID 6526011. 
  2. ^ Hopp, Thomas P.; Prickett, Kathryn S.; Price, Virginia L.; Libby, Randell T.; March, Carl J.; Pat Cerretti, Douglas; Urdal, David L.; Conlon, Paul J. (1988). "A Short Polypeptide Marker Sequence Useful for Recombinant Protein Identification and Purification". Bio/Technology 6 (10): 1204–10. doi:10.1038/nbt1088-1204. 
  3. ^ Einhauer, A.; Jungbauer, A. (2001). "The FLAG™ peptide, a versatile fusion tag for the purification of recombinant proteins". Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Methods 49 (1–3): 455–65. doi:10.1016/S0165-022X(01)00213-5. PMID 11694294. 
  4. ^ http://www-users.med.cornell.edu/~jawagne/FLAG-tag.html[full citation needed]
  5. ^ FLAG is a registered trademark of Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC
  6. ^ Hopp, T.P., et al. (1987) Synthesis of protein with an identification peptide (vectors). United States Patent 4,703,004.
  7. ^ Field, J; Nikawa, J; Broek, D; MacDonald, B; Rodgers, L; Wilson, IA; Lerner, RA; Wigler, M (1988). "Purification of a RAS-responsive adenylyl cyclase complex from Saccharomyces cerevisiae by use of an epitope addition method". Molecular and Cellular Biology 8 (5): 2159–65. PMC 363397. PMID 2455217.