Transient fluorescence labeling: Low affinity—high benefits

Maxim M. Perfilov, Alexey S. Gavrikov, Konstantin A. Lukyanov, Alexander S. Mishin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Fluorescent labeling is an established method for visualizing cellular structures and dy-namics. The fundamental diffraction limit in image resolution was recently bypassed with the development of super-resolution microscopy. Notably, both localization microscopy and stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy impose tight restrictions on the physico-chemical properties of labels. One of them—the requirement for high photostability—can be satisfied by transiently interacting labels: a constant supply of transient labels from a medium replenishes the loss in the signal caused by photobleaching. Moreover, exchangeable tags are less likely to hinder the intrinsic dynamics and cellular functions of labeled molecules. Low-affinity labels may be used both for fixed and living cells in a range of nanoscopy modalities. Nevertheless, the design of optimal labeling and imaging protocols with these novel tags remains tricky. In this review, we highlight the pros and cons of a wide variety of transiently interacting labels. We further discuss the state of the art and future perspectives of low-affinity labeling methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11799
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Exchangeable labels
  • Fluorescent labeling
  • Super-resolution microscopy


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