The invention provides a protein labeling and interaction detection system based on engineered fragments of fluorescent and chromophoric proteins that require fused interacting polypeptides to drive the association of the fragments, and further are soluble and stable, and do not change the solubility of polypeptides to which they are fused. In one embodiment, a test protein X is fused to a sixteen amino acid fragment of GFP (.beta.-strand 10, amino acids 198-214), engineered to not perturb fusion protein solubility. A second test protein Y is fused to a sixteen amino acid fragment of GFP (.beta.-strand 11, amino acids 215-230), engineered to not perturb fusion protein solubility. When X and Y interact, they bring the GFP strands into proximity, and are detected by complementation with a third GFP fragment consisting of GFP amino acids 1-198 (strands 1-9). When GFP strands 10 and 11 are held together by interaction of protein X and Y, they spontaneous association with GFP strands 1-9, resulting in structural complementation, folding, and concomitant GFP fluorescence.
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.