An immunoaffinity-based method for isolating ultrapure adult astrocytes based on ATP1B2 targeting by the ACSA-2 antibody

J Biol Chem. 2017 May 26;292(21):8874-8891. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.765313. Epub 2017 Apr 3.


Astrocytes are a major cell type in the mammalian CNS. Astrocytes are now known to play a number of essential roles in processes including synapse formation and function, as well as blood-brain barrier formation and control of cerebral blood flow. However, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying astrocyte development and function is still rudimentary. This lack of knowledge is at least partly due to the lack of tools currently available for astrocyte biology. ACSA-2 is a commercially available antibody originally developed for the isolation of astrocytes from young postnatal mouse brain, using magnetic cell-sorting methods, but its utility in isolating cells from adult tissue has not yet been published. Using a modified protocol, we now show that this tool can also be used to isolate ultrapure astrocytes from the adult brain. Furthermore, using a variety of techniques (including single-cell sequencing, overexpression and knockdown assays, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemistry), we identify the ACSA-2 epitope for the first time as ATP1B2 and characterize its distribution in the CNS. Finally, we show that ATP1B2 is stably expressed in multiple models of CNS injury and disease. Hence, we show that the ACSA-2 antibody possesses the potential to be an extremely valuable tool for astrocyte research, allowing the purification and characterization of astrocytes (potentially including injury and disease models) without the need for any specialized and expensive equipment. In fact, our results suggest that ACSA-2 should be a first-choice method for astrocyte isolation and characterization.

Keywords: astrocyte; cell surface protein; flow cytometry; immunoblotting; immunohistochemistry; immunoisolation; membrane protein; neuroscience; plasma membrane; single-cell RNA-seq.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases* / biosynthesis
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases* / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Cation Transport Proteins* / biosynthesis
  • Cation Transport Proteins* / chemistry
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal* / biosynthesis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal* / chemistry
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epitopes* / biosynthesis
  • Epitopes* / chemistry
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Male
  • Mice


  • Antibodies
  • Atp1b2 protein, mouse
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Epitopes
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases