Development of a dehalogenase-based protein fusion tag capable of rapid, selective and covalent attachment to customizable ligands

Curr Chem Genomics. 2012;6:55-71. doi: 10.2174/1875397301206010055. Epub 2012 Oct 5.


Our fundamental understanding of proteins and their biological significance has been enhanced by genetic fusion tags, as they provide a convenient method for introducing unique properties to proteins so that they can be examinedin isolation. Commonly used tags satisfy many of the requirements for applications relating to the detection and isolation of proteins from complex samples. However, their utility at low concentration becomes compromised if the binding affinity for a detection or capture reagent is not adequate to produce a stable interaction. Here, we describe HaloTag® (HT7), a genetic fusion tag based on a modified haloalkane dehalogenase designed and engineered to overcome the limitation of affinity tags by forming a high affinity, covalent attachment to a binding ligand. HT7 and its ligand have additional desirable features. The tag is relatively small, monomeric, and structurally compatible with fusion partners, while the ligand is specific, chemically simple, and amenable to modular synthetic design. Taken together, the design features and molecular evolution of HT7 have resulted in a superior alternative to common tags for the overexpression, detection, and isolation of target proteins.

Keywords: Affinity tag; DhaA; HaloTag; dehalogenase; directed evolution; fusion tag; protein capture; protein detection; protein engineering; protein isolation; protein labeling; protein purification.; protein/cellular imaging.