The determination of protein-protein interactions by the mating-based split-ubiquitin system (mbSUS)

Methods Mol Biol. 2009;479:217-33. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-289-2_14.


Dynamic and reversible protein-protein interactions have a pivotal function in all living cells. For instance, protein-protein interactions are involved in the assembly and regulation of multimeric enzymes and transcription factors, various signal response pathways, intracellular sorting and movement of proteins and membrane vesicles, cell-to-cell protein transport, and many others. Here we provide a detailed protocol for the mating-based split-ubiquitin system (mbSUS), which is a sensitive and user-friendly alternative to the classical yeast two-hybrid system in particular. mbSUS relies on the ubiquitin-degradation pathway as a sensor for protein-protein interactions. Thus, mbSUS is predominantly suitable for the determination of full-length proteins localized in the cytoplasm and in or at membrane compartments, without the need for their truncation and nuclear mislocation. In addition, we present a set of Gateway compatible mbSUS vectors that allow the rapid generation of constructs for fast and efficient interaction studies. An additional vector is introduced that allows the extension of mbSUS for the analysis of oligomeric protein complex formation and competition assays in vivo. In summary, mbSUS provides an additional versatile tool for protein-protein interaction studies, which is complementary to in planta assays such as BiFC and FRET.

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Mapping / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ubiquitin / genetics
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*
  • Yeasts / genetics


  • Plant Proteins
  • Ubiquitin