Near-infrared fluorescent probes: a next-generation tool for protein-labeling applications
The development of near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probes over the past few decades has changed the way that biomolecules are imaged, and thus represents one of the most rapidly progressing areas of research. Presently, NIR fluorescent probes are routinely used to visualize and understand intracellular activities. The ability to penetrate tissues deeply, reduced photodamage to living organisms, and a high signal-to-noise ratio characterize NIR fluorescent probes as efficient next-generation tools for elucidating various biological events. The coupling of self-labeling protein tags with synthetic fluorescent probes is one of the most promising research areas in chemical biology. Indeed, at present, protein-labeling techniques are not only used to monitor the dynamics and localization of proteins but also play a more diverse role in imaging applications. For instance, one of the dominant technologies employed in the visualization of protein activity and regulation is based on protein tags and their associated NIR fluorescent probes. In this mini-review, we will discuss the development of several NIR fluorescent probes used for various protein-tag systems.