BACKGROUND: Birch pollen allergy represents the main cause of winter and spring pollinosis in the temperate climate zone of the northern hemisphere and sensitization towards Bet v 1, the major birch pollen allergen, affects over 100 million allergic patients. The major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 has been described as promiscuous acceptor for a wide variety of hydrophobic ligands.
OBJECTIVE: In search of intrinsic properties of Bet v 1, which account responsible for the high allergenic potential of the protein, we thought to investigate the effects of ligand-binding on immunogenic as well as allergenic properties.
METHODS: As surrogate ligand of Bet v 1 sodium deoxycholate (DOC) was selected. Recombinant and natural Bet v 1 were characterised physico-chemically as well as immunologically in the presence or absence of DOC, and an animal model of allergic sensitization was established. Moreover, human IgE binding to Bet v 1 was analysed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
RESULTS: Ligand-binding had an overall stabilizing effect on Bet v 1. This translated in a Th2 skewing of the immune response in a mouse model. Analyses of human IgE binding on Bet v 1 in mediator release assays revealed that ligand-bound allergen-induced degranulation at lower concentrations; however, in basophil activation tests with human basophils ligand-binding did not show this effect. For the first time, human IgE epitopes on Bet v 1 were determined using antibodies isolated from patients' sera. The IgE epitope mapping of Bet v 1 demonstrated the presence of multiple binding regions.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Deoxycholate binding stabilizes conformational IgE epitopes on Bet v 1; however, the epitopes themselves remain unaltered. Therefore, we speculate that humans are exposed to both ligand-bound and free Bet v 1 during sensitization, disclosing the ligand-binding cavity of the allergen as key structural element.
Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012
- 302 Clinical Medicine
- 106 Biology
- Antigens, Plant/chemistry
- Basophil Degranulation Test
- Betula/adverse effects
- Cell Degranulation/immunology
- Cell Line
- Deoxycholic Acid/chemistry
- Disease Models, Animal
- Epitope Mapping
- Immunoglobulin E/immunology
- Models, Molecular
- Protein Binding
- Protein Conformation
- Protein Stability
- Recombinant Proteins/chemistry
- Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal/immunology