Bioorthogonal Chemistry: Fishing for Selectivity in a Sea of Functionality


  • Ellen M. Sletten,

    1. Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 (USA)
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  • Carolyn R. Bertozzi Prof.

    1. Departments of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology
    2. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California
    3. The Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720 (USA), Fax: (+1) 510-643-2628
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The study of biomolecules in their native environments is a challenging task because of the vast complexity of cellular systems. Technologies developed in the last few years for the selective modification of biological species in living systems have yielded new insights into cellular processes. Key to these new techniques are bioorthogonal chemical reactions, whose components must react rapidly and selectively with each other under physiological conditions in the presence of the plethora of functionality necessary to sustain life. Herein we describe the bioorthogonal chemical reactions developed to date and how they can be used to study biomolecules.