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Mol Cells. 2019 May 31;42(5):386-396. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2019.0078.

Site-Specific Labeling of Proteins Using Unnatural Amino Acids.

Lee KJ1,2,3, Kang D1,3, Park HS1.

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Department of Chemistry, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea.
Present address: CHA Advanced Research Institute, Seongnam 13488, Korea.
These authors contributed equally to this work.


Labeling of a protein with a specific dye or tag at defined positions is a critical step in tracing the subtle behavior of the protein and assessing its cellular function. Over the last decade, many strategies have been developed to achieve selective labeling of proteins in living cells. In particular, the site-specific unnatural amino acid (UAA) incorporation technique has gained increasing attention since it enables attachment of various organic probes to a specific position of a protein in a more precise way. In this review, we describe how the UAA incorporation technique has expanded our ability to achieve site-specific labeling and visualization of target proteins for functional analyses in live cells.


bioorthogonal; click chemistry; genetic code expansion; site-specific labeling; unnatural amino acid

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