Macromolecular interactions play a central role in many biological processes. Protein-protein interactions have mostly been studied by co-immunoprecipitation, which cannot provide quantitative information on all possible molecular connections present in the complex. We will review a new approach that allows cellular proteins and biomolecular complexes to be studied in real-time at the single-molecule level. This technique is called single-molecule pull-down (SiMPull), because it integrates principles of conventional immunoprecipitation with the powerful single-molecule fluorescence microscopy. SiMPull is used to count how many of each protein is present in the physiological complexes found in cytosol and membranes. Concurrently, it serves as a single-molecule biochemical tool to perform functional studies on the pulled-down proteins. In this review, we will focus on the detailed methodology of SiMPull, its salient features and a wide range of biological applications in comparison with other biosensing tools.
Keywords: Western blotting; co-immunoprecipitation; fluorescence; protein complex; pull-down; single molecule.
© 2014 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.