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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Mar 19;99(6):3469-74.

Protein-protein interactions monitored in mammalian cells via complementation of beta -lactamase enzyme fragments.

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Baxter Laboratory for Genetic Pharmacology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


We have defined inactive alpha and omega fragments of beta-lactamase that can complement to form a functional enzyme in both bacteria and mammalian cells, serving as a readout for the interaction of proteins fused to the fragments. Critical to this advance was the identification of a tripeptide, Asn-Gly-Arg, which when juxtaposed at the carboxyl terminus of the alpha fragment increased complemented enzyme activity by up to 4 orders of magnitude. beta-Lactamase is well suited to monitoring constitutive and inducible protein interactions because it is small (29 kDa), monomeric, and assayable with a fluorescent cell-permeable substrate. The negligible background, the magnitude of induced signal caused by enzymatic amplification, and detection of signal within minutes are unparalleled in mammalian protein interaction detection systems published to date.

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