General applicability of chicken egg yolk antibodies: the performance of IgY immunoglobulins raised against the hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha

FASEB J. 1999 Jan;13(1):81-8. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.13.1.81.


Avian embryos and neonates acquire passive immunity by transferring maternal immunoglobulins from serum to egg yolk. Despite being a convenient source of antibodies, egg yolk immunoglobulins (IgY) from immunized hens have so far received scant attention in research. Here we report the generation and rapid isolation of IgY from the egg yolk of hens immunized against the alpha subunit of the human hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1alpha). Anti-HIF-1alpha IgY antibodies were affinity purified and tested for their performance in various applications. Abundant HIF-1alpha protein was detected by Western blot analysis in nuclear extracts derived from hypoxic cells of human, mouse, monkey, swine, and dog origin whereas in hypoxic quail and frog cells, the HIF-1alpha signal was weak or absent, respectively. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays, affinity-purified IgY antibody was shown to recognize the native HIF-1 (but not the related HIF-2) complex that specifically binds an oligonucleotide containing the HIF-1 DNA binding site. Furthermore, IgY antibody immunoprecipitated HIF-1alpha from hypoxic cell extracts. Immunofluorescence experiments using IgY antibody allowed the detection of HIF-1alpha in the nucleus of hypoxic COS-7 cells. For comparison, the application of a mouse monoclonal antibody raised against the identical HIF-1alpha fragment was more restricted. Because chicken housing is inexpensive, egg collection is noninvasive, isolation and affinity purification of IgY antibodies are fast and simple, and the applicability of IgY is widespread, immunization of hens represents an excellent alternative for the generation of polyclonal antibodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Chickens
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Dogs
  • Egg Yolk / immunology*
  • Haplorhini
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Immunoglobulins / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulins / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulins / isolation & purification
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Proteins / immunology*
  • Quail
  • Swine
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenopus laevis


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • IgY
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors