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Methods. 2006 Dec;40(4):353-9.

Analysis of in vivo targets of transcriptional activators by fluorescence resonance energy transfer.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Carbondale, IL-62901, USA.


Gene expression in eukaryotes is largely controlled at the level of transcriptional initiation by gene-specific activators. Transcriptional activators stimulate the assembly of general transcription factors on the promoter to form a preinitiation complex (PIC). Such a stimulated assembly of PIC is believed to result from a direct interaction between the activator and one or more components of the transcription machinery, termed the "target". Based primarily upon in vitro protein-protein interaction experiments, a variety of factors have been proposed to be the direct targets of activators. However, whether any of these are bona fide in vivo targets required for stimulation of PIC assembly and hence transcriptional activation remains mostly unknown, primarily because of lack of appropriate experimental methods. Using a confocal microscopy-based FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) assay, we have recently identified the target of a prototypic activator, Gal4p, in living yeast cells. Here, we describe the FRET assay in general for analysis of the targets of transcriptional activators in living yeast cells. Such an assay can also be used as a general method to monitor protein-protein interactions in vivo.

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