The modulation of expression levels of fluorescent fusion proteins (FFPs) is central for recombinant DNA technologies in modern biology as overexpression of proteins contributes to artifacts in biological experiments. In addition, some microscopy techniques such as fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and single-molecule-based techniques are very sensitive to high expression levels of FFPs. To reduce the levels of recombinant protein expression in comparison with the commonly used, very strong CMV promoter, the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (TK) gene promoter, and mutants thereof were analyzed. Deletion mutants of the TK promoter were constructed and introduced into the Gateway (R) system for ectopic expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP), monomeric cherry (mCherry), and FFPs containing these FPs. Two promoter constructs, TK2ST and TKTSC, were established, which have optimal low expression levels suitable for FCS studies in U2OS, HeLa CCL2, NIH 3T3, and BALB/c cells. Interestingly, when tested in these four cell lines, promoter constructs having a deletion within TK gene 5'-UTR showed significantly higher protein expression levels than the equivalent constructs lacking this deletion. This suggests that a negative regulatory element is localized within the TK gene 5'-UTR.