Frataxin is the protein that is down-regulated in Friedreich ataxia (FA). There are currently no approved treatments for FA, although experimental approaches involving up-regulation or replacement of mature frataxin protein through numerous approaches are being tested. Many of the pre-clinical studies of these experimental approaches are conducted in mouse and monkey models as well as in human cell lines. Consequently, well-validated antibodies are required for use in western blot analysis to determine whether levels of various forms of frataxin have been increased. This group examined the specificity of five commercially available anti-frataxin antibodies and determined whether they detect mature frataxin in mouse heart tissue. Four protein standards of monkey, human, and mouse frataxin as well as mouse heart tissue were examined using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) in combination with western blot analysis. One antibody failed to detect any of the frataxin standards or endogenous frataxin in mouse heart tissue. Three of the antibodies detected a protein in mouse heart tissue that ran slightly faster on PAGE (at 23.4 kDa) to that predicted for full-length frataxin (23.9 kDa). One antibody detected all four frataxin standards as well as His-tagged and endogenous mouse mature frataxin in mouse tissue. Significantly, this antibody, which will be useful for monitoring mature frataxin levels in monkey, human, and mouse tissues, did not detect a protein in mouse heart tissue at 23.4 kDa. Therefore, antibodies detecting the immunoreactive protein at 23.4 kDa could be misleading when testing for the up-regulation of frataxin in animal models.
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