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Versatile Interacting Peptide Tags for High Resolution Microscopy


OHSU # 2270

Technology Overview:

There is an ongoing need to develop tools that expand the capabilities of existing imaging and microscopy techniques.  In particular, there is a need to provide tools that allow for multi-color imaging without relying on large, bulky proteins (such as, fluorescent proteins, labeled antibodies and protein tags) to label and track target proteins of interest, as these can interfere with the target protein’s activity and subcellular localization.  It would be advantageous, as well, to expand the color options for imaging techniques that are traditionally monochromatic (for example, electron microscopy (EM)).  The use of short peptide tags would address these needs.  Surprisingly, few peptide tags have been developed to date, and they are not ideal because of their limited spectral diversity and complexity of use.


In order to address this unmet need, researchers at OHSU have developed a novel system for tracking multiple cellular proteins. The system uses small, genetically encoded peptide tags to label proteins based on heterodimeric coiled-coil interactions. The tags have the same labeling specificity as conventional antibodies, with the added benefit of greater labeling efficiency and a smaller size.


Technology at a glance:

•       Versatile Interacting Peptide (VIP) tags are small, target-specific, and easy to use

•       Compatible with diverse chemical reporters (i.e., fluorophores, quantum dots, gold particles, etc.)

•       Can be used to detect proteins in cell lysates and on surface of living cells

•       Useful for monitoring endocytosis or recycling of cell-surface receptors

•       A sensitive alternative to immunolabeling, particularly when high specificity antibodies are lacking

•       VIP tags allow for multicolor labeling in mixed cell populations

•       Labeling is rapid and cells can be imaged live or post-fixation

•       Useful for multi-scale microscopy, particularly for tracking proteins from one set-up to another (fluorescence microscopy to EM)

•       Useful for imaging in confocal microscopy, correlative light and EM (CLEM), transmission EM, scanning EM, cryoEM, flow cytometry, and SDS-PAGE/membrane transfer



Zane HK, Doh JK, Enns CA, Beatty KE. Versatile Interacting Peptide (VIP)Tags for Labeling Proteins with Bright Chemical Reporters. Chembiochem, Jan 4 2017


Intellectual Property

U.S. provisional patent application filed 11/08/2016


Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for exclusive licensing.





PublishedUnited StatesWO 2018/089472

Other Patents Filed


For more information, contact:

Anne Carlson
Technology Development Manager