Olivier Bornert, Thomas Kocher, Christine Gretzmeier, Bernadette Liemberger, Stefan Hainzl, Ulrich Koller, Alexander Nyström
High conservation of extracellular matrix proteins often makes the generation of potent species-specific antibodies challenging. For collagen VII there is a particular preclinical interest in the ability to discriminate between human and murine collagen VII. Deficiency of collagen VII causes dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB) – a genetic skin blistering disease, which in its most severe forms is highly debilitating. Advances in gene and cell therapy approaches have made curative therapies for genetic diseases a realistic possibility. DEB is one disorder for which substantial progress has been made toward curative therapies and improved management of the disease. However, to increase their efficacy further preclinical studies are needed. The early neonatal lethality of complete collagen VII deficient mice, have led researches to resort to using models maintaining residual collagen VII expression or grafting of DEB model skin on wild-type mice for preclinical therapy studies. These approaches are challenged by collagen VII expression by the murine host. Thus, the ability to selectively visualize human and murine collagen VII would be a substantial advantage. Here, we describe a novel resource toward this end. By immunization with homologous peptides we generated rabbit polyclonal antibodies that recognize either human or murine collagen VII. Testing on additional species, including rat, sheep, dog, and pig, combined sequence alignment and peptide competition binding assays enabled identification of the major antisera recognizing epitopes. The species-specificity was maintained after denaturation and the antibodies allowed us to simultaneously, specifically visualize human and murine collagen VII in situ.