A reproducible technique for specific labeling of antigens using preformed fluorescent molecular IgG-F(ab')2 complexes from primary antibodies of the same species

Microsc Res Tech. 2010 Jun;73(6):623-30. doi: 10.1002/jemt.20803.


Immunolabeling two different antigens using the indirect approach with antibodies from the same species is not possible as secondary antibodies can bind to either primary target antibodies. In this study, we describe how preformed complexes of primary and secondary labeled antibodies can be used in such circumstances. In this situation, the first antigen is labeled using the conventional indirect method followed by incubation with the preformed primary-secondary antibody complex against the second antigen. To prevent unbound secondary antibody from binding the indirectly-labeled antibodies, resulting in a false positive, we quenched excess secondary antibody with nonimmune murine serum from the species of the primary antibody. Before the formation of the preformed complex, the optimum dilution of both primary and secondary antibodies was determined. Once these concentrations were established, the concentration of nonimmune murine serum required to quench excess unbound secondary was determined. This step was accomplished by first incubating the sample with an antibody against an antigen known to be localized away from the antigen of interest, followed by the preformed complex. If specific staining was seen, other than that expected from the preformed complex, then the concentration of the serum was deemed insufficient for quenching, and increased accordingly. We demonstrate that this approach is successful in determining the optimum conditions for the preformation of ascites and purified monoclonal primary IgG with fluorescently conjugated F(ab')(2). Double immunolabelling of two focal adhesion antigens and two cytoskeletal proteins, with two murine primary antibodies, are presented as examples of the methodology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / analysis*
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / analysis
  • Fluorescence*
  • Focal Adhesions
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments / metabolism*
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Mice
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Antigens
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments
  • Immunoglobulin G