Visualization of protein interactions in living Caenorhabditis elegans using bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis

Y. John Shyu, Susan M. Hiatt, Holli M. Duren, Ronald Ellis, Tom K. Kerppola, Chang Deng Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations


The bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) assay is a powerful tool for visualizing and identifying protein interactions in living cells. This assay is based on the principle of protein-fragment complementation, using two nonfluorescent fragments derived from fluorescent proteins. When two fragments are brought together in living cells by tethering each to one of a pair of interacting proteins, fluorescence is restored. Here, we provide a protocol for a Venus-based BiFC assay to visualize protein interactions in the living nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. We discuss how to design appropriate C. elegans BiFC cloning vectors to enable visualization of protein interactions using either inducible heat shock promoters or native promoters; transform the constructs into worms by microinjection; and analyze and interpret the resulting data. When expression of BiFC fusion proteins is induced by heat shock, the fluorescent signals can be visualized as early as 30 min after induction and last for 24 h in transgenic animals. The entire procedure takes 2-3 weeks to complete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-596
Number of pages9
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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