Background: Frequently reported dimerization of allergens may contribute to their allergenicity.
Results: Polysulfide-bridged allergen dimers exhibit different allergenic properties compared with the monomer.
Conclusion: The N-terminal region has a distinct susceptibility for modifications and impacts its protein-protein interaction characteristics.
Significance: The crystal structures well mimic transient dimerization of the allergens in solution, providing a rational for effective IgE cross-linking on effector cells.
Many allergens share several biophysical characteristics, including the capability to undergo oligomerization. The dimerization mechanism in Bet v 1 and its allergenic properties are so far poorly understood. Here, we report crystal structures of dimeric Bet v 1, revealing a noncanonical incorporation of cysteine at position 5 instead of genetically encoded tyrosine. Cysteine polysulfide bridging stabilized different dimeric assemblies, depending on the polysulfide linker length. These dimers represent quaternary arrangements that are frequently observed in related proteins, reflecting their prevalence in unmodified Bet v 1. These conclusions were corroborated by characteristic immunologic properties of monomeric and dimeric allergen variants. Hereby, residue 5 could be identified as an allergenic hot spot in Bet v 1. The presented results refine fundamental principles in protein chemistry and emphasize the importance of protein modifications in understanding the molecular basis of allergenicity.
Allergen; Crystal Structure; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Post-translational Modification; Protein Assembly; Dimerization; Noncanonical Amino Acid Incorporation; Polysulfide Linking; Position-specific Alteration of Genetic Code
Helminth infections and allergy have evolutionary and clinical links. Infection with the nematode Ascaris lumbricoides induces IgE against several molecules including invertebrate pan-allergens. These antibodies influence the pathogenesis and diagnosis of allergy; therefore, studying parasitic and non-parasitic allergens is essential to understand both helminth immunity and allergy. Glutathione transferases (GSTs) from cockroach and house dust mites are clinically relevant allergens and comparative studies between them and the GST from A. lumbricoides (GSTA) are necessary to evaluate their allergenicity. We sought to analyze the allergenic potential of GSTA in connection with the IgE response to non-parasitic GSTs. IgE to purified GSTs from Ascaris (nGSTA and rGSTA), house dust mites (rDer p 8, nBlo t 8 and rBlo t 8), and cockroach (rBla g 5) was measured by ELISA in subjects from Cartagena, Colombia. Also, multidimensional proteomic approaches were used to study the extract of A. lumbricoides and investigate the existence of GST isoforms. We found that among asthmatics, the strength of IgE levels to GSTA was significantly higher than to mite and cockroach GSTs, and there was a strong positive correlation between IgE levels to these molecules.
Specific IgE to GSTA was found in 13.2% of controls and 19.5% of asthmatics. In addition nGSTA induced wheal and flare in skin of sensitized asthmatics indicating that it might be of clinical relevance for some patients. Frequency and IgE levels to GSTA were higher in childhood and declined with age. At least six GST isoforms in A. lumbricoides bind human IgE. Four isoforms were the most abundant and several amino acid substitutions were found, mainly on the N-terminal domain. In conclusion, a new allergenic component of Ascaris has been discovered; it could have clinical impact in allergic patients and influence the diagnosis of mite and cockroach allergy in tropical environments.
Background. Specific immunotherapy using recombinant allergens is clinically effective; still wild-type allergens can provoke treatment-induced side effects and often show poor immunogenicity in vivo. Thus, we tested the low IgE-binding, highly immunogenic fold variant BM4 in a Bet v 1 mouse model. Methods. Recombinant BM4 was used as active vaccine ingredient to treat mice sensitized to Bet v 1. As controls, mice were treated with either Bet v 1 or sham, and the humoral as well as cellular immune response was monitored. Moreover, lung function and lung inflammation were analysed. Results. BM4 was more effective than wild-type Bet v 1 in inducing Bet v 1-specific blocking antibodies as well as IFN-γ and IL-10 producing T cells. Further, birch pollen induced lung inflammation could be ameliorated significantly by BM4 treatment as demonstrated by a reduction of airway hyperresponsiveness and drastically decreased eosinophil counts in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids. Conclusion. The study outlines the high potential of BM4 as vaccine candidate for the treatment of Bet v 1-mediated birch pollen allergies.
Climate change and air pollution, including ozone is known to affect plants and might also influence the ragweed pollen, known to carry strong allergens. We compared the transcriptome of ragweed pollen produced under ambient and elevated ozone by 454-sequencing. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was carried out for the major ragweed allergen Amb a 1. Pollen surface was examined by scanning electron microscopy and attenuated total reflectance–Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), and phenolics were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Elevated ozone had no influence on the pollen size, shape, surface structure or amount of phenolics. ATR-FTIR indicated increased pectin-like material in the exine. Transcriptomic analyses showed changes in expressed-sequence tags (ESTs), including allergens. However, ELISA indicated no significantly increased amounts of Amb a 1 under elevated ozone concentrations. The data highlight a direct influence of ozone on the exine components and transcript level of allergens. As the total protein amount of Amb a 1 was not altered, a direct correlation to an increased risk to human health could not be derived. Additional, the 454-sequencing contributes to the identification of stress-related transcripts in mature pollen that could be grouped into distinct gene ontology terms.
Background and Aims
The egg protein ovalbumin (OVA) belongs to six most frequent food allergens. We investigated how thermal processing influences its ability to induce allergic symptoms and immune responses in mouse model of food allergy.
Effect of increased temperature (70°C and 95°C) on OVA secondary structure was characterized by circular dichroism and by the kinetics of pepsin digestion with subsequent HPLC. BALB/c mice were sensitized intraperitoneally and challenged with repeated gavages of OVA or OVA heated to 70°C (h-OVA). Levels of allergen-specific serum antibodies were determined by ELISA (IgA and IgGs) or by β-hexosaminidase release test (IgE). Specific activities of digestive enzymes were determined in brush border membrane vesicles of jejunal enterocytes. Cytokine production and changes in regulatory T cells in mesenteric lymph nodes and spleen were assessed by ELISA and FACS. Heating of OVA to 70°C caused mild irreversible changes in secondary structure compared to boiling to 95°C (b-OVA), but both OVA treatments led to markedly different digestion kinetics and Tregs induction ability in vitro, compared to native OVA. Heating of OVA significantly decreased clinical symptoms (allergic diarrhea) and immune allergic response on the level of IgE, IL-4, IL-5, IL-13. Furthermore, h-OVA induced lower activities of serum mast cell protease-1 and enterocyte brush border membrane alkaline phosphatase as compared to native OVA. On the other hand h-OVA stimulated higher IgG2a in sera and IFN-γ secretion by splenocytes.
Minor irreversible changes in OVA secondary structure caused by thermal processing changes both its digestion and antigenic epitopes formation, which leads to activation of different T cell subpopulations, induces shift towards Th1 response and ultimately reduces its allergenicity.
A response to the article by Rupp (2012), Acta Cryst. F68, 366–376.
The authors of J. Immunol.
184, 725–735 respond to the article by Rupp (2012), Acta Cryst. F68, 366–376.
response; protein structure; Bet V 1 birch pollen allergen
Nitration of pollen derived allergens can occur by NO2 and ozone in polluted air and it has already been shown that nitrated major birch (Betula verrucosa) pollen allergen Bet v 1.0101 (Bet v 1) exhibits an increased potency to trigger an immune response. However, the mechanisms by which nitration might contribute to the induction of allergy are still unknown. In this study, we assessed the effect of chemically induced nitration of Bet v 1 on the generation of HLA-DR associated peptides. Human dendritic cells were loaded with unmodified Bet v 1 or nitrated Bet v 1, and the naturally processed HLA-DR associated peptides were subsequently identified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Nitration of Bet v 1 resulted in enhanced presentation of allergen-derived HLA-DR-associated peptides. Both the copy number of Bet v 1 derived peptides as well as the number of nested clusters was increased. Our study shows that nitration of Bet v 1 alters antigen processing and presentation via HLA-DR, by enhancing both the quality and the quantity of the Bet v 1-specific peptide repertoire. These findings indicate that air pollution can contribute to allergic diseases and might also shed light on the analogous events concerning the nitration of self-proteins.
Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), is increasingly spreading in Southern Germany and Central Europe. Little is yet known about the sensitization and allergy rates in Bavaria.
In 2008 to 2010 patients from a Bavarian university allergy unit were enrolled into the study. The patient's history was recorded by a standardised questionnaire concerning allergies. Sensitization rates were measured by skin prick test (SPT) for seasonal aeroallergens including ragweed. Patients sensitized to ragweed were further characterized by measuring specific serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) for ragweed specific allergens (by ImmunoCAP and ELISA). To determine the clinical relevance challenge tests (nasal/conjunctival) with ragweed were performed.
1022 patients were enrolled in the study (665 female, 357 male). 289 patients were sensitized to ragweed (SPT positive). In ragweed sensitized patients the sensitization rate to mugwort was 61.8% whilst in patients not sensitized to ragweed it was 7.4%. The sensitization to birch was 78.1% resp. 36.4%. In 120 ragweed sensitized patients challenge tests with ragweed extract were performed (nasal n = 110; conjunctival n = 60) with positive results in 29 (26%) resp. 12 (20%) patients. In 232 ragweed sensitized patients specific IgE to nArt v 1 was observed significantly more frequently than to nAmb a 1.
The results of this 3-year study show that in a Bavarian allergy unit sensitization to ragweed is frequent. Often ragweed-sensitized patients have sensitivities to multiple seasonal aeroallergens. There is a coexistence of ragweed and mugwort specific allergens. One fourth of the challenged patients that are sensitized to ragweed show clinical allergy symptoms. With sufficient ambient allergen exposure, a prolonged allergy season can be expected for this at-risk population.
An economic and cheap production of large amounts of recombinant allergenic proteins might become a prerequisite for the common use of microarray-based diagnostic allergy assays which allow a component-specific diagnosis. A molecular pharming strategy was applied to express the major allergen of Artemisia vulgaris pollen, Art v 1, in tobacco plants and tobacco cell cultures. The original Art v 1 with its endogenous signal peptide which directs Art v 1 to the secretory pathway, was expressed in transiently transformed tobacco leaves but was lost in stable transformed tobacco plants during the alternation of generations. Using a light-regulated promoter and “hiding” the recombinant Art v 1 in the ER succeeded in expression of Art v 1 over three generations of tobacco plants and in cell cultures generated from stable transformed plants. However, the amounts of the recombinant allergen were sufficient for analysis but not high enough to allow an economic production. Although molecular pharming has been shown to work well for the production of non-plant therapeutic proteins, it might be less efficient for closely related plant proteins.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00299-011-1199-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Artemisia vulgaris; Molecular pharming; Pollen; Allergy; Recombinant allergen
Air pollution is frequently proposed as a cause of the increased incidence of allergy in industrialised countries. We investigated the impact of ozone (O3) on reactive oxygen species (ROS) and allergen content of ragweed pollen (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Pollen was exposed to acute O3 fumigation, with analysis of pollen viability, ROS and nitric oxide (NO) content, activity of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAD[P]H) oxidase, and expression of major allergens. There was decreased pollen viability after O3 fumigation, which indicates damage to the pollen membrane system, although the ROS and NO contents were not changed or were only slightly induced, respectively. Ozone exposure induced a significant enhancement of the ROS-generating enzyme NAD(P)H oxidase. The expression of the allergen Amb a 1 was not affected by O3, determined from the mRNA levels of the major allergens. We conclude that O3 can increase ragweed pollen allergenicity through stimulation of ROS-generating NAD(P)H oxidase.
► O3 reduces the viability of ragweed pollen. ► ROS and allergens of ragweed pollen were not affected by O3 exposure. ► O3 enhances the activity of the ROS-generating enzyme NAD(P)H oxidase. ► O3 increases ragweed pollen allergenicity through NAD(P)H-oxidase stimulation.
This study focuses on the effects of the atmospheric pollutant ozone on ROS content and NAD(P)H oxidase activity of ragweed pollen grains.
NAD(P)H oxidase; Ozone; Pollen; Ragweed; ROS
Celery (Apium graveolens) represents a relevant allergen source that can elicit severe reactions in the adult population. To investigate the sensitization prevalence and cross-reactivity of Api g 2 from celery stalks in a Mediterranean population and in a mouse model.
786 non-randomized subjects from Italy were screened for IgE reactivity to rApi g 2, rArt v 3 (mugwort pollen LTP) and nPru p 3 (peach LTP) using an allergen microarray. Clinical data of 32 selected patients with reactivity to LTP under investigation were evaluated. Specific IgE titers and cross-inhibitions were performed in ELISA and allergen microarray. Balb/c mice were immunized with purified LTPs; IgG titers were determined in ELISA and mediator release was examined using RBL-2H3 cells. Simulated endolysosomal digestion was performed using microsomes obtained from human DCs.
IgE testing showed a sensitization prevalence of 25.6% to Api g 2, 18.6% to Art v 3, and 28.6% to Pru p 3 and frequent co-sensitization and correlating IgE-reactivity was observed. 10/32 patients suffering from LTP-related allergy reported symptoms upon consumption of celery stalks which mainly presented as OAS. Considerable IgE cross-reactivity was observed between Api g 2, Art v 3, and Pru p 3 with varying inhibition degrees of individual patients' sera. Simulating LTP mono-sensitization in a mouse model showed development of more congruent antibody specificities between Api g 2 and Art v 3. Notably, biologically relevant murine IgE cross-reactivity was restricted to the latter and diverse from Pru p 3 epitopes. Endolysosomal processing of LTP showed generation of similar clusters, which presumably represent T-cell peptides.
Api g 2 represents a relevant celery stalk allergen in the LTP-sensitized population. The molecule displays common B cell epitopes and endolysosomal peptides that encompass T cell epitopes with pollen and plant-food derived LTP.
Recombinant allergens are under investigation for replacing allergen extracts in immunotherapy. Site-directed mutagenesis has been suggested as a strategy to develop hypoallergenic molecules that will reduce the risk of side effects. For decades, chemically modified allergen extracts have been used for the same reason.
To evaluate whether glutaraldehyde modification is a good strategy to produce hypoallergenic recombinant allergens with retained immunogenicity.
Fel d 1 was cloned as a single construct linking both chains of the molecule and expressed in Escherichia coli and Pichia pastoris. After physicochemical purification, recombinant Fel d 1 (rFel d 1) was chemically modified using glutaraldehyde. The effect of modification on immune reactivity was evaluated using radioallergosorbent test, CAP-inhibition, competitive radioimmunoassay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, basophil histamine release, and T-cell proliferation assays. Both natural Fel d 1 and recombinant unmodified Fel d 1 were used as controls.
rFel d 1 demonstrated similar IgE binding and biological activity as its natural counterpart. Upon modification, IgE-binding potency decreased to >1000-fold, which was translated into a >106-fold reduction in the biological activity assessed by basophil histamine release. In contrast, the modified recombinant did not show a decreased but even a moderately increased capacity (1.5-fold) to stimulate proliferation of T cells (P < 0.01). Finally, it induced specific IgG antibodies in rabbits that recognized the unmodified allergen.
Chemical modification is a practical and highly effective approach for achieving hypoallergenicity of recombinant allergens with retained immunogenicity.
allergoid; Felis domesticus; hypoallergen; immunotherapy; rFel d 1
Hen's egg allergy ranks among the most frequent primary food allergies in children. We aimed to investigate sensitization profiles of egg allergic patients and compare in vitro IgE reactivities of eggs from ancient chicken breeds (Araucana and Maran) with those from conventional laying hen hybrids.
Egg allergic children (n = 25) were subjected to skin prick test, double blind placebo controlled food challenge, and sensitization profiles to Gal d 1–5 were determined by allergen microarray. IgE binding and biological activity of eggs from different chicken breeds were investigated by immunoblot, ELISA, and mediator release assays.
We found that Gal d 1 and Gal d 2 are generally major egg allergens, whereas Gal d 3–5 displayed high sensitization prevalence only in patients reacting to both, egg white and yolk. It seems that the onset of egg allergy is mediated by egg white allergens expanding to yolk sensitization in later stages of disease. Of note, egg white/yolk weight ratios were reduced in eggs from Auraucana and Maran chicken. As determined in IgE immunoblots and mass analysis, eggs from ancient chicken breeds did not differ in their protein composition. Similar IgE-binding was observed for all egg white preparations, while an elevated allergenicity was detected in egg yolk from Araucana chicken.
Our results on allergenicity and biological activity do not confirm the common assumption that aboriginal food might be less allergenic. Comprehensive diagnosis of egg allergy should distinguish between reactivity to hen's egg white and yolk fractions to avoid unnecessary dietary restrictions to improve life quality of the allergic child and its family.
A large percentage of allergenic proteins are of plant origin. Hence, plant-based expression systems are considered ideal for the recombinant production of certain allergens. First attempts to establish production of plant-derived allergens in plants focused on transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana infected with recombinant viral vectors. Accordingly, allergens from birch and mugwort pollen, as well as from apple have been expressed in plants. Production of house dust mite allergens has been achieved by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of tobacco plants. Beside the use of plants as production systems, other approaches have focused on the development of edible vaccines expressing allergens or epitopes thereof, which bypasses the need of allergen purification. The potential of this approach has been convincingly demonstrated for transgenic rice seeds expressing seven dominant human T cell epitopes derived from Japanese cedar pollen allergens. Parallel to efforts in developing recombinant-based diagnostic and therapeutic reagents, different gene-silencing approaches have been used to decrease the expression of allergenic proteins in allergen sources. In this way hypoallergenic ryegrass, soybean, rice, apple, and tomato were developed.
Allergy; Expression system; Green biotechnology; Molecular farming; Recombinant protein
Previously, defined naturally occurring isoforms of allergenic proteins were classified as hypoallergens and therefore suggested as an agent for immunotherapy in the future. In this paper, we report for the first time the molecular background of hypoallergenicity by comparing the immunological behavior of hyperallergenic Betula verrucosa major Ag 1a (Bet v 1a) and hypoallergenic Bet v 1d, two isoforms of the major birch pollen allergen Betula verrucosa 1. Despite their cross-reactivity, Bet v 1a and Bet v 1d differ in their capacity to induce protective Ab responses in BALB/c mice. Both isoforms induced similar specific IgE levels, but only Bet v 1d expressed relevant titers of serum IgGs and IgAs. Interestingly, hypoallergenic Bet v 1d activated dendritic cells more efficiently, followed by the production of increased amounts of Th1- as well as Th2-type cytokines. Surprisingly, compared with Bet v 1a, Bet v 1d-immunized mice showed a decreased proliferation of regulatory T cells. Crystallographic studies and dynamic light scattering revealed that Bet v 1d demonstrated a high tendency to form disulfide-linked aggregates due to a serine to cysteine exchange at residue 113. We conclude that aggregation of Bet v 1d triggers the establishment of a protective Ab titer and supports a rationale for Bet v 1d being a promising candidate for specific immunotherapy of birch pollen allergy.
Hypersensitivity reactions against nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like diclofenac (DF) can manifest as Type I-like allergic reactions including systemic anaphylaxis. However, except for isolated case studies experimental evidence for an IgE-mediated pathomechanism of DF hypersensitivity is lacking. In this study we aimed to investigate the possible involvement of drug- and/or metabolite-specific antibodies in selective DF hypersensitivity.
DF, an organochemically synthesized linkage variant, and five major Phase I metabolites were covalently coupled to carrier proteins. Drug conjugates were analyzed for coupling degree and capacity to crosslink receptor-bound IgE antibodies from drug-sensitized mice. With these conjugates, the presence of hapten-specific IgE antibodies was investigated in patients' samples by ELISA, mediator release assay, and basophil activation test. Production of sulfidoleukotrienes by drug conjugates was determined in PBMCs from DF-hypersensitive patients. All conjugates were shown to carry more than two haptens per carrier molecule. Immunization of mice with drug conjugates induced drug-specific IgE antibodies capable of triggering mediator release. Therefore, the conjugates are suitable tools for detection of drug-specific antibodies and for determination of their anaphylactic activity. Fifty-nine patients were enrolled and categorized as hypersensitive either selectively to DF or to multiple NSAIDs. In none of the patients' samples evidence for drug/metabolite-specific IgE in serum or bound to allergic effector cells was found. In contrast, a small group of patients (8/59, 14%) displayed drug/metabolite-specific IgG.
We found no evidence for an IgE-mediated effector mechanism based on haptenation of protein carriers in DF-hypersensitive patients. Furthermore, a potential involvement of the most relevant metabolites in DF hypersensitivity reactions could be excluded.
Allergic reactions towards the birch major pollen allergen Bet v 1 are among the most common causes of spring pollinosis in the temperate climate zone of the Northern hemisphere. Natural Bet v 1 is composed of a complex mixture of different isoforms. Detailed analysis of recombinant Bet v 1 isoforms revealed striking differences in immunologic as well as allergenic properties of the molecules, leading to a classification of Bet v 1 isoforms into high, medium, and low IgE binding proteins. Especially low IgE binding Bet v 1 isoforms have been described as ideal candidates for desensitizing allergic patients with allergen specific immunotherapy (SIT). Since diagnosis and therapy of allergic diseases are highly dependent on recombinant proteins, continuous improvement of protein production is an absolute necessity.
Therefore, two different methods for recombinant production of a low IgE binding Bet v 1 isoform were applied; one based on published protocols, the other by implementing latest innovations in protein production. Both batches of Bet v 1.0401 were extensively characterized by an array of physicochemical as well as immunological methods to compare protein primary structure, purity, quantity, folding, aggregation state, thermal stability, and antibody binding capacity.
The experiments demonstrated that IgE antibody binding properties of recombinant isoallergens can be significantly influenced by the production method directly affecting possible clinical applications of the molecules.
The reduced quantity and quality of serum immunoglobulins (sIgs) in mutant mice expressing truncated cytoplasmic tails of IgE and IgG1 indicate an active role for the cytoplasmic domains of mIgG1 and mIgE. We used phage display technology to identify candidate proteins able to interact with the cytoplasmic tail of mIgE. Using a murine cDNA B cell library displayed on the surface of phage as prey and the 28 amino acid long cytoplasmic tail of IgE as bait, we isolated phage encoding the murine hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1). Surface plasmon resonance analysis measurements confirmed affinity of HPK1 to the mIgE cytoplasmic tail and revealed association to other immunoglobulin isotypes as well. Immunoprecipitation experiments, using lysates from two B cell lines expressing nitrophenyl (NP) specific mIgE molecules showed co-precipitation of IgE and HPK1. The interaction of HPK1 with the cytoplasmic domains of membrane immunoglobulins indicate an active role of the tails as part of an isotype specific signal transduction, independent from the Igα/Igβ heterodimers, and may represent a missing link to upstream regulatory elements of HPK1 activation.