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Nature communications

Insufficient antibody validation challenges oestrogen receptor beta research.


PMID 28643774

Abstract

The discovery of oestrogen receptor β (ERβ/ESR2) was a landmark discovery. Its reported expression and homology with breast cancer pharmacological target ERα (ESR1) raised hopes for improved endocrine therapies. After 20 years of intense research, this has not materialized. We here perform a rigorous validation of 13 anti-ERβ antibodies, using well-characterized controls and a panel of validation methods. We conclude that only one antibody, the rarely used monoclonal PPZ0506, specifically targets ERβ in immunohistochemistry. Applying this antibody for protein expression profiling in 44 normal and 21 malignant human tissues, we detect ERβ protein in testis, ovary, lymphoid cells, granulosa cell tumours, and a subset of malignant melanoma and thyroid cancers. We do not find evidence of expression in normal or cancerous human breast. This expression pattern aligns well with RNA-seq data, but contradicts a multitude of studies. Our study highlights how inadequately validated antibodies can lead an exciting field astray.