Reversible Live-Cell Labeling with Retro-engineered HaloTags Enables Long-Term High- and Super-Resolution Imaging

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2023 Apr 24;62(18):e202219050. doi: 10.1002/anie.202219050. Epub 2023 Mar 10.


Self-labeling enzymes (SLE) such as the HaloTag have emerged as powerful tools in high and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Newly developed fluorogenic SLE substrates enable imaging in the presence of excess dye. To exploit this feature for reversible labeling, we engineered two variants of HaloTag7 with restored dehalogenase activity. Kinetic studies in vitro showed different turnover kinetics for reHaloTagS (≈0.006 s-1 ) and reHaloTagF (≈0.055 s-1 ). Imaging by confocal and stimulated emission depletion microscopy yielded 3-5-time enhanced photostability of reHaloTag labeling. Prominently, single molecule imaging with reHaloTags enabled controlled and stable labeling density over extended time periods. By combination with structured illumination, simultaneous visualization of single molecule diffusion and organellar dynamics was achieved. These applications highlight the potential of reHaloTag labeling for pushing the limits of advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques.

Keywords: Fluorescent Probes; Protein Engineering; STED Microscopy; Self-Labeling Enzyme; Single Molecule Tracking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescent Dyes* / chemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • haloalkane dehalogenase