Bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) analysis as a probe of protein interactions in living cells

Annu Rev Biophys. 2008;37:465-87. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biophys.37.032807.125842.


Protein interactions are a fundamental mechanism for the generation of biological regulatory specificity. The study of protein interactions in living cells is of particular significance because the interactions that occur in a particular cell depend on the full complement of proteins present in the cell and the external stimuli that influence the cell. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) analysis enables direct visualization of protein interactions in living cells. The BiFC assay is based on the association between two nonfluorescent fragments of a fluorescent protein when they are brought in proximity to each other by an interaction between proteins fused to the fragments. Numerous protein interactions have been visualized using the BiFC assay in many different cell types and organisms. The BiFC assay is technically straightforward and can be performed using standard molecular biology and cell culture reagents and a regular fluorescence microscope or flow cytometer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Molecular Probe Techniques*
  • Protein Interaction Mapping / methods*
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Proteome