Characterization of the chemical environment, movement, trafficking and interactions of proteins in live cells is essential to understanding their functions. Labeling protein with functional molecules is a widely used approach in protein research to elucidate the protein location and functions both in vitro and in live cells or in vivo. A peptide or a protein tag fused to the protein of interest and provides the opportunities for an attachment of small molecule probes or other fluorophore to image the dynamics of protein localization. Here we reviewed the recent development of no-wash small molecular probes for photoactive yellow protein (PYP-tag), by the means of utilizing a quenching mechanism based on the intramolecular interactions, or an environmental-sensitive fluorophore. Several fluorogenic probes have been developed, with fast labeling kinetics and cell permeability. This technology allows quick live-cell imaging of cell-surface and intracellular proteins without a wash-out procedure.
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