Polyclonal and Monoclonal Antibodies: Contrast and Summary

Summary

Polyclonal antibodies Monoclonal antibodies
More cost-effective production More costly production
Production skills required are minimal Special training required
Speedier production Production of hybridomas takes comparatively longer
Production process results in a large quantity of antibodies with low specificity Production results in a large quantity of specific antibodies
Bind to multiple epitopes on a single antigen Bind only one restricted epitope on a single antigen
Variability can occur between batches Low variability between batches
  A hybridoma represents a constant source of monoclonal antibody and is renewable

Polyclonal Antibodies

Facts

  • They have affinity for more than one epitope on an antigen, and the serum obtained comprises a mixture of different antibodies with different levels of binding affinity
  • They are mostly IgG antibodies
  • They are typically raised using peptides as the immunogenic molecules, so that the polyclonal antibody will target unique epitopes, more especially when the protein target is part of a family with significantly high homology

Antibody Production

  • They cost less and take less time to produce than monoclonal antibodies
  • The process of production is relatively simple

Advantages

The ability to recognize and bind multiple epitopes on a single antigen confers benefits such as:

  • Signal amplification from a target protein that is not highly expressed because of the binding of multiple antibody molecules on different epitopes (conversely, when flow cytometry or similar quantitative measurements are in view, this is a disadvantage because of the resulting inaccuracy)
  • Polyclonal antibodies function well even with small antigen alterations due to polymorphism, glycosylation with a different residue or different functional group, or a minor degree of denaturation, compared to monoclonals
  • They can pick out proteins which are highly homologous to the immunogen as well as screen for target protein in a species different from the host species of the immunogen
  • They are typically chosen to detect denatured proteins

Disadvantages

  • They are likely to show significant variability between batches
  • They cannot be used to identify specific antigen domains as the antiserum binds with affinity to multiple domains

Monoclonal Antibodies

Facts

  • They bind only one specific epitope on a single antigen
  • They are usually of a single antibody subtype, such as IgG1, IgG2 or IgG3

Antibody Production

  • Only trained staff can produce these antibodies
  • Hybridoma production takes a much longer time

Advantages

  • A hybridoma can be used for as long as required, and can be renewed as required.
  • All monoclonal antibodies from a single hybridoma are identical, which ensures that experimental protocols can be standardized to produce consistent results.
  • They can only detect a single defined or restricted epitope per antigen which means that cross-reactivity is minimized, and also that they are homogeneous.
  • As a result, monoclonal antibodies produce very consistent and reproducible effects provided the experimental conditions are reproduced.

Disadvantages

  • The epitope detected by the antibody may not be common to other species
  • The monoclonal antibody is more sensitive to epitope loss that results from chemical treatment of the sample antigen compared to polyclonal antibodies, but this may be overcome by using two or more of these molecules to target the same antigen at different epitopes, such as when cocktail antibodies are used

RabMAb® Technology

Abcam produces rabbit monoclonal antibodies with high specificity and sensitivity using its proprietary RabMAb technology that yields the advantages of both monoclonal and polyclonal technology.

About Abcam

Abcam is a global life sciences company providing highly validated antibodies and other binders and assays to the research and clinical communities to help advance the understanding of biology and causes of disease.

Abcam’s mission is to serve life scientists to help them achieve their mission faster by listening to their needs, continuously innovating and improving and by giving them the tools, data and experience they want. Abcam’s ambition is to become the most influential life science company for researchers worldwide.


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Last updated: Jun 6, 2019 at 12:49 PM

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