Numerous synthetic fluorophores have been developed that can switch their spectroscopic properties upon interaction with other molecules or by irradiation with light. In recent years, protein-labeling techniques have been introduced that permit the specific attachment of such molecules to proteins of interest in living cells. We review here how the attachment of switchable fluorophores to selected proteins of interest via self-labeling protein tags enables new applications in different areas of biology and discuss how these molecules could be further improved.
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