Ideal bioorthogonal reactions using a site-specifically encoded tetrazine amino acid

Robert J. Blizzard, Dakota R. Backus, Wes Brown, Christopher G. Bazewicz, Yi Li, Ryan A. Mehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Bioorthogonal reactions for labeling biomolecules in live cells have been limited by slow reaction rates or low component selectivity and stability. Ideal bioorthogonal reactions with high reaction rates, high selectivity, and high stability would allow for stoichiometric labeling of biomolecules in minutes and eliminate the need to wash out excess labeling reagent. Currently, no general method exists for controlled stoichiometric or substoichiometric labeling of proteins in live cells. To overcome this limitation, we developed a significantly improved tetrazine-containing amino acid (Tet-v2.0) and genetically encoded Tet-v2.0 with an evolved aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNA(CUA) pair. We demonstrated in cellulo that protein containing Tet-v2.0 reacts selectively with cyclopropane-fused trans-cyclooctene (sTCO) with a bimolecular rate constant of 72,500 ± 1660 M-1 s-1 without reacting with other cellular components. This bioorthogonal ligation of Tet-v2.0-protein reacts in cellulo with substoichiometric amounts of sTCO-label fast enough to remove the labeling reagent from media in minutes, thereby eliminating the need to wash out label. This ideal bioorthogonal reaction will enable the monitoring of a larger window of cellular processes in real time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10044-10047
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 19 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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