Document Type


Publication Date



© 2016 The Authors. Luciferase complementation assays detect protein-protein interactions within living cells using bioluminescence. Since the first report using plant cells was published in 2007, over 100 peer-reviewed articles have been published describing the detection of protein-protein interactions within plant cells by the assays. The assays have also been used to analyze networks of protein-protein interactions in plants. Although the assays have a high dynamic range, they remain qualitative with respect to determining the affinities of interactions. In this article, we first summarize the luciferase complementation assays developed in the past years. We then describe the mechanism of the firefly luciferase complementation that is most widely used in plants, and the reason it is qualitative rather than quantitative using a mathematical model. Finally, we discuss possible procedures to quantitatively determine the affinity of a protein pair using the firefly luciferase complementation assay.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Current Plant Biology

First Page


Last Page