Vitellogenin (VTG), a yolk-precursor protein in oviparous vertebrates, is a useful biomarker for reproductive physiology and environmental estrogenic pollution. To examine interspecific applicability of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for quantifying Chinemys reevesii VTG, we observed cross-reactivity between a polyclonal antibody against Chinemys reevesii VTG and the VTGs from other turtle species: Chelydra serpentina (Chelydridae), Macrochelys temminckii (Chelydridae), and Pelodiscus sinensis (Trionychidae), which are phylogenetically distant from Chinemys reevesii (Geoemydidae). The VTGs of the three species were induced by injecting estradiol 17β into the turtles and purified by using the EDTA-MgCl2 precipitation method. The purified VTG appeared as a 200-kDa protein in sodium dodecylsulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, indicating that the molecular mass of the VTGs of the three species was similar to that of Chinemys reevesii VTG. The purified VTGs were serially diluted (0.004–2 μg/ml) and applied to the ELISA. Although the VTGs of the two chelydrid turtles showed cross-reactivity in a concentration-dependent manner, the degree of cross-reactivity was only 22.8–41.2% (mean=30.0%) and 19.7–53.0% (mean=33.2%) for Chelydra serpentina VTG and Macrochelys temminckii VTG, respectively. The ELISA may therefore be theoretically applicable to measure relative levels of the VTGs of these two species, but the absolute concentration values may be inaccurate. Pelodiscus sinensis VTG showed almost no cross-reactivity (8.0–9.7%, mean=8.9%) at any concentration tested, thus indicating the inapplicability of the ELISA to quantify Pelodiscus sinensis VTG. There are thus limitations in extending the applicability of the ELISA across species, even within the order Testudines.
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