Antibodies are the most commonly used tools in biological research. They are used in various applications such as Western Blot (WB), Immunoprecipitation (IP), Immunofluorescence (IF), Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Two of the most common hosts for producing research antibodies are rabbits and mice, but what are the differences between rabbit and mouse antibodies? Which antibody would be best suited for your research?
Antigen Recognition & Antibody Reservoir Diversity
Rabbits, as a host, have a high success rate with a larger range of antigens compared to mice. In mice, antigens like small molecules and peptides are often non-immunogenic, while rabbits will produce the desired antibodies against challenging antigens including small molecules, peptides, and post-translational modification (PTM) sites. The resulting rabbit antiserum will consist of a larger variety of antibodies compared to mice antiserum.
In addition, the antibodies produced in rabbits usually recognize more epitopes per protein antigen than mouse antibodies since there is less immunodominance in rabbit.
Affinity & Specificity
In general, rabbit antibodies have a better affinity and specificity than mouse antibodies. Rabbit antibodies are highly specific antibodies that can bind to proteins in the picomolar range, while mouse antibodies recognize proteins to the nanomolar range with medium/high specificity.
Antibodies produced in mice are usually suitable for common applications such as WB, ELISA, flow cytometry, and IP. However, they are less likely to produce satisfying results for staining applications such as immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunocytochemistry (ICC). In comparison, rabbit antibodies perform better in these assays, especially when used on mouse tissue samples.
Length of Immunization
Mouse antibodies require a shorter immunization period due to the size of the host. Usually, mice require one and a half months of immunization and rabbits require two to three months.
Due to the higher specificity, affinity, and broader applications, rabbit antibodies are generally priced higher than mouse antibodies.
In conclusion, rabbits produce superior antibodies compared to mice. However, customized rabbit antibodies projects also take longer and requires larger funding. The most suitable host for producing the best antibody for your research would depend on time, budget, and the application.
An alternative to customized antibodies – which are limited by time and funding – is off-the-shelf antibodies. Apart from the ability to produce customized antibodies, ABclonal Technology have 13,000+ ready-to-use catalog antibodies.