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Western Blotting Inaccuracies with Unverified Antibodies: Need for a Western Blotting Minimal Reporting Standard (WBMRS).

PloS one (2015-08-20)
Jennifer E Gilda, Rajeshwary Ghosh, Jenice X Cheah, Toni M West, Sue C Bodine, Aldrin V Gomes
ABSTRACT

Western blotting is a commonly used technique in biological research. A major problem with Western blotting is not the method itself, but the use of poor quality antibodies as well as the use of different experimental conditions that affect the linearity and sensitivity of the Western blot. Investigation of some conditions that are commonly used and often modified in Western blotting, as well as some commercial antibodies, showed that published articles often fail to report critical parameters needed to reproduce the results. These parameters include the amount of protein loaded, the blocking solution and conditions used, the amount of primary and secondary antibodies used, the antibody incubation solutions, the detection method and the quantification method utilized. In the present study, comparison of ubiquitinated proteins in rat heart and liver samples showed different results depending on the antibody utilized. Validation of five commercial ubiquitin antibodies using purified ubiquitinated proteins, ubiquitin chains and free ubiquitin showed that these antibodies differ in their ability to detect free ubiquitin or ubiquitinated proteins. Investigating proteins modified with interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15) in young and old rat hearts using six commercially available antibodies showed that most antibodies gave different semi-quantitative results, suggesting large variability among antibodies. Evidence showing the importance of the Western blot buffer and the concentration of antibody used is presented. Hence there is a critical need for comprehensive reporting of experimental conditions to improve the accuracy and reproducibility of Western blot analysis. A Western blotting minimal reporting standard (WBMRS) is suggested to improve the reproducibility of Western blot analysis.

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