The invention provides protein subcellular localization assays using split fluorescent protein systems. The assays are conducted in living cells, do not require fixation and washing steps inherent in existing immunostaining and related techniques, and permit rapid, non-invasive, direct visualization of protein localization in living cells. The split fluorescent protein systems used in the practice of the invention generally comprise two or more self-complementing fragments of a fluorescent protein, such as GFP, wherein one or more of the fragments correspond to one or more beta-strand microdomains and are used to "tag" proteins of interest, and a complementary "assay" fragment of the fluorescent protein. Either or both of the fragments may be functionalized with a subcellular targeting sequence enabling it to be expressed in or directed to a particular subcellular compartment (i.e., the nucleus).
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the United States Department of Energy to The Regents of The University of California. The government has certain rights in this invention.