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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2013 Oct;17(5):738-46. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2013.07.021. Epub 2013 Aug 9.

Teaching old NCATs new tricks: using non-canonical amino acid tagging to study neuronal plasticity.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA; Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, D-60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The non-canonical amino acid labeling techniques BONCAT (bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging) and FUNCAT (fluorescent non-canonical amino acid tagging) enable the specific identification and visualization of newly synthesized proteins. Recently, these techniques have been applied to neuronal systems to elucidate protein synthesis dynamics during plasticity, identify stimulation-induced proteomes and subproteomes and to investigate local protein synthesis in specific subcellular compartments. The next generation of tools and applications, reviewed here, includes the development of new tags, the quantitative identification of newly synthesized proteins, the application of NCAT to whole animals, and the ability to genetically restrict NCAT labeling. These techniques will enable not only improved detection but also allow new scientific questions to be tackled.

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