Bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) is a fluorescence imaging technique used to visualize protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in live cells and animals. One unique application of BiFC is to reveal subcellular localization of PPIs. The superior signal-to-noise ratio of BiFC in comparison with fluorescence resonance energy transfer or bioluminescence resonance energy transfer enables its wide applications. Here, we describe how confocal microscopy can be used to detect and quantify PPIs and their subcellular localization. We use basic leucine zipper transcription factor proteins as an example to provide a step-by-step BiFC protocol using a Nikon A1 confocal microscope and NIS-Elements imaging software. The protocol given below can be readily adapted for use with other confocal microscopes or imaging software.
Keywords: BiFC; Bimolecular fluorescence complementation; Confocal microscopy; PPI; Protein localization; Protein–protein interaction.