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, 10 (5), 780-91

Labeling Proteins on Live Mammalian Cells Using Click Chemistry


Labeling Proteins on Live Mammalian Cells Using Click Chemistry

Ivana Nikić et al. Nat Protoc.


We describe a protocol for the rapid labeling of cell-surface proteins in living mammalian cells using click chemistry. The labeling method is based on strain-promoted alkyne-azide cycloaddition (SPAAC) and strain-promoted inverse-electron-demand Diels-Alder cycloaddition (SPIEDAC) reactions, in which noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) bearing ring-strained alkynes or alkenes react, respectively, with dyes containing azide or tetrazine groups. To introduce ncAAs site specifically into a protein of interest (POI), we use genetic code expansion technology. The protocol can be described as comprising two steps. In the first step, an Amber stop codon is introduced--by site-directed mutagenesis--at the desired site on the gene encoding the POI. This plasmid is then transfected into mammalian cells, along with another plasmid that encodes an aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNA (RS/tRNA) pair that is orthogonal to the host's translational machinery. In the presence of the ncAA, the orthogonal RS/tRNA pair specifically suppresses the Amber codon by incorporating the ncAA into the polypeptide chain of the POI. In the second step, the expressed POI is labeled with a suitably reactive dye derivative that is directly supplied to the growth medium. We provide a detailed protocol for using commercially available ncAAs and dyes for labeling the insulin receptor, and we discuss the optimal surface-labeling conditions and the limitations of labeling living mammalian cells. The protocol involves an initial cloning step that can take 4-7 d, followed by the described transfections and labeling reaction steps, which can take 3-4 d.

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