Advances in recombinant antibody production.

Elizabete Carmo-Silva stays up to date on innovative plant science research methods, but one aspect of her work always concerned her – the process used to make the antibodies she needs for her research.

Traditionally the process of making antibodies for research involves the use of a small number of animals – typically rabbits – which are killed for their blood products to be used. Animal-sourced antibodies are even used in plant sciences, for example, to characterize the abundance of photosynthetic proteins in crop plants. Antibodies that selectively bind to proteins of interest are labeled with fluorescent dyes or isotopes selectively bind to enable detection and quantification.

In recent years, advances in technology using cell cultures have begun to enable recombinant antibody production. Recombinant antibodies are produced by synthetic cell culture – removing the need to use animals.

“This technology has existed for years, but it has not been used much in plant research either because scientists don’t know that it’s an option or because it’s cost-prohibitive,” said Duncan Bloemers, former doctoral researcher in the Carmo-Silva lab at Lancaster University and now a data analyst for LiNaEnergy.

A new book chapter by Bloemers and Carmo-Silva outlines how plant scientists can apply this method to their work. The chapter, “Antibody Design for the Quantification of Photosynthetic Proteins and Their Isoforms” appears in Photosynthesis: Methods and Protocols, a book sharing methods, protocols, and best practices with the photosynthesis research community. The chapter includes how the duo went about designing and developing the antibodies specific to the different isoforms of their protein of interest (Rubisco activase), what was involved in the design, and how to validate that the proteins are being properly recognized by the antibodies. Importantly, researchers can use these detailed methods to create antibodies for virtually any protein and continue to use their current detection methods like immunoblotting and Western blotting.

Elizabete CarmoSilva, professor in crop physiology at Lancaster University.

“The ethics of our research are very important,” said Carmo-Silva, Professor of plant physiology and principal investigator for Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). “We are very thankful to those who have made it possible to adopt this strategy and use it in our lab. We hope others will use it as well.”

Read the chapter:

Bloemer, D., Carmo-Silva, E. A. (2024). Antibody Design for the Quantification of Photosynthetic Proteins and Their Isoforms. In: Covshoff, S. (eds) Photosynthesis. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2790. Humana, New York, NY.

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