A general method for the covalent labeling of fusion proteins with small molecules in vivo
Characterizing the movement, interactions, and chem. microenvironment of a protein inside the living cell is crucial to a detailed understanding of its function. Most strategies aimed at realizing this objective are based on genetically fusing the protein of interest to a reporter protein that monitors changes in the environment of the coupled protein. Examples include fusions with fluorescent proteins, the yeast two-hybrid system, and split ubiquitin. However, these techniques have various limitations, and considerable effort is being devoted to specific labeling of proteins in vivo with small synthetic mols. capable of probing and modulating their function. These approaches are currently based on the noncovalent binding of a small mol. to a protein, the formation of stable complexes between biarsenical compds. and peptides contg. cysteines, or the use of biotin acceptor domains. Here we describe a general method for the covalent labeling of fusion proteins in vivo that complements existing methods for noncovalent labeling of proteins and that may open up new ways of studying proteins in living cells.