Q: Your targeted toxin kits come with different controls. I’m not sure of the best way to use them; there is included unconjugated antibody, unconjugated saporin, and a control conjugate, mouse IgG-SAP. Should I use them all in the same experiment or for different purposes?
A: For mouse IgG-containing conjugates, the ideal control is Mouse IgG-SAP (Cat. # IT-18). Mouse IgG-SAP — that is, saporin conjugated to mouse IgG — that has no specific antigen for targeting is the best control. Unconjugated saporin is still considered a second good control, useful in cases where down-regulation by the antibody is a concern.
Q: What about for the peptide toxins like Octreotide-SAP?
A: We have produced Blank-SAP as a control for the peptide ligand toxins. Blank-SAP (Cat. #IT-21) is a peptide that has the usual common amino acids that are found in peptide neurotransmitters, but arranged in a sequence that is random and not detected in homology searches. So, it should never find an amenable receptor. This is quite an important control; the peptide ligand toxins are often delivered directly to tissue, and there are cases in which there will be no toxicity or non-specific toxicity.
One of the best uses we have seen for Blank-SAP has been in:
Bugarith K, Dinh TT, Li AJ, Speth RC, Ritter S (2005) Basomedial hypothalamic injections of neuropeptide Y conjugated to saporin selectively disrupt hypothalamic controls of food intake. Endocrinology 146(3):1179-1191.
As any journal reviewer will tell you, it’s very important to document the specificity, and with Blank-SAP as a control, you can definitively show that toxicity is due to proper targeting, rather than non-specific cytotoxicity. This should provide the information needed so the reviewer doesn’t have to make you go back and document specificity with further experimental work!