Basic neuroscience research employs antibodies as key reagents to label, capture, and modulate the function of proteins of interest. Antibodies are immunoglobulin proteins. Recombinant antibodies are immunoglobulin proteins whose nucleic acid coding regions, or fragments thereof, have been cloned into expression plasmids that allow for unlimited production. Recombinant antibodies offer many advantages over conventional antibodies including their unambiguous identification and digital archiving via DNA sequencing, reliable expression, ease and reliable distribution as DNA sequences and as plasmids, and the opportunity for numerous forms of engineering to enhance their utility. Recombinant antibodies exist in many different forms, each of which offers potential advantages and disadvantages for neuroscience research applications. I provide an overview of recombinant antibodies and their development. Examples of their emerging use as valuable reagents in basic neuroscience research are also discussed. Many of these examples employ recombinant antibodies in innovative experimental approaches that cannot be pursued with conventional antibodies.
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