Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) detects the proximity of fluorescently labeled molecules over distances >100 A. When performed in a fluorescence microscope, FRET can be used to map protein-protein interactions in vivo. We here describe a FRET microscopy method that can be used to determine whether proteins that are colocalized at the level of light microscopy interact with one another. This method can be implemented using digital microscopy systems such as a confocal microscope or a wide-field fluorescence microscope coupled to a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera. It is readily applied to samples prepared with standard immunofluorescence techniques using antibodies labeled with fluorescent dyes that act as a donor and acceptor pair for FRET. Energy transfer efficiencies are quantified based on the release of quenching of donor fluorescence due to FRET, measured by comparing the intensity of donor fluorescence before and after complete photobleaching of the acceptor. As described, this method uses Cy3 and Cy5 as the donor and acceptor fluorophores, but can be adapted for other FRET pairs including cyan fluorescent protein and yellow fluorescent protein.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.