Selective chemical labeling of proteins in living cells

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2005 Feb;9(1):56-61. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2004.12.007.


Labeling proteins with fluorophores, affinity labels or other chemically or optically active species is immensely useful for studying protein function in living cells or tissue. The use of genetically encoded green fluorescent protein and its variants has been particularly valuable in this regard. In an effort to increase the diversity of available protein labels, various efforts to append small molecules to selected proteins in vivo have been reported. This review discusses recent advances in selective, in vivo protein labeling based on small molecule ligand-receptor interactions, intein-mediated processes, and enzyme-catalyzed protein modifications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells / cytology
  • Cells / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Ligands
  • Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins