Imaging and manipulating proteins in live cells through covalent labeling
The past 20 years have witnessed the advent of numerous technologies to specifically and covalently label proteins in cellulo and in vivo with synthetic probes. These technologies range from self-labeling proteins tags to non-natural amino acids, and the question is no longer how we can specifically label a given protein but rather with what additional functionality we wish to equip it. In addition, progress in fields such as super-resolution microscopy and genome editing have either provided additional motivation to label proteins with advanced synthetic probes or removed some of the difficulties of conducting such experiments. By focusing on two particular applications, live-cell imaging and the generation of reversible protein switches, we outline the opportunities and challenges of the field and how the synergy between synthetic chemistry and protein engineering will make it possible to conduct experiments that are not feasible with conventional approaches.