Triggering biological processes: methods and applications of photocaged peptides and proteins
There has been a significant push in recent years to deploy fundamental knowledge and methods of photochemistry toward biological ends. Photoreactive groups have enabled chemists to activate biological function using the concept of photocaging. By granting spatiotemporal control over protein activation, these photocaging methods are fundamental in understanding biological processes. Peptides and proteins are an important group of photocaging targets that present conceptual and technical challenges, requiring precise chemoselectivity in complex polyfunctional environments. This review focuses on recent advances in photocaging techniques and methodologies, as well as their use in living systems. Photocaging methods include genetic and chemical approaches that require a deep understanding of structure–function relationships based on subtle changes in primary structure. Successful implementation of these ideas can shed light on important spatiotemporal aspects of living systems.