• confocal laser scanning microscopy;
  • ion exchange chromatography;
  • fluorescent labeling;
  • labeling position;
  • protein displacement


Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) is a method allowing in situ visualization of protein transport in porous chromatography resins. CLSM requires labeling a protein with a fluorescent probe. Recent work has shown that conjugation of the protein with fluorescent probes can lead to significant changes in the retention time of the protein–dye conjugate with respect to the unlabeled protein. In this study, we show that common labeling procedures result in a heterogeneous mixture of different variants and that attachment location of the fluorescent probe on the protein surface can have a strong effect on the retention of protein-dye conjugate. Lysozyme was labeled with Cy5 and BODIPY-FL succinimidyl esters, followed by chromatographic separation of the different lysozyme–dye conjugates and subsequent determination of the label position using MALDI-TOF-MS. Finally, homogenously labeled lysozyme–dye conjugates were used in CLSM experimentation and compared to published results arising from heterogeneously labeled feedstocks. The results confirm that the attachment location of the fluorescent probe has a strong effect on chromatographic retention behavior. When addressing the binding affinities of the different labeled protein fractions, it was found that native lysozyme was able to displace lysozyme–dye conjugates when the fluorescent label was attached to lysine-33, but not when attached to lysine-97. Finally, it could be shown that when superimposing the single profiles of the three major fractions obtained during a labeling procedure a qualitative picture of the net profile is obtained. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2007; 98: 193–200. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.