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A quantitative tri-fluorescent yeast two-hybrid system: from flow cytometry to in-cellula affinities

David Cluet, Ikram Amri, Blandine Vergier, Jérémie Léault, Astrid Audibert, Clémence Grosjean, Dylan Calabrési, and Martin Spichty (2020)

Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

We present a technological advancement for the estimation of the affinities of Protein-Protein Interactions (PPIs) in living cells. A novel set of vectors is introduced that enables a quantitative yeast two-hybrid system based on fluorescent fusion proteins. The vectors allow simultaneous quantification of the reaction partners (Bait and Prey) and the reporter at the single-cell level by flow cytometry. We validate the applicability of this system on a small but diverse set of PPIs (eleven protein families from six organisms) with different affinities; the dissociation constants range from 117 pM to 17 µM. After only two hours of reaction, expression of the reporter can be detected even for the weakest PPI. Through a simple gating analysis, it is possible to select only cells with identical expression levels of the reaction partners. As a result of this standardization of expression levels, the mean reporter levels directly reflect the affinities of the studied PPIs. With a set of PPIs with known affinities, it is straightforward to construct an affinity ladder that permits rapid classification of PPIs with thus far unknown affinities. Conventional software can be used for this analysis. To permit automated analysis, we provide a graphical user interface for the Python-based FlowCytometryTools package.

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