© 2014 Pahr et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Wheat is an important staple food and potent allergen source. Recently, we isolated a cDNA coding for wheat alpha-purothionin which is recognized by wheat food allergic patients at risk for severe wheat-induced allergy. The purpose of the present study was the biochemical, biophysical and IgE epitope characterization of recombinant alpha-purothionin. Synthetic genes coding for alpha-purothionin were expressed in a prokaryotic system using Escherichia coli and in a eukaryotic expression system based on baculovirus-infected Sf9-insect cells. Recombinant proteins were purified and characterized by SDS-PAGE, mass spectrometry, circular dichroism, chemical cross-linking and size exclusion chromatography. Five overlapping peptid were synthesized for epitope mapping. Alpha-purothionin-specific rabbit antibodies were raised to perform IgE-inhibition experiments and to study the resistance to digestion. The IgE reactivity of the proteins and peptides from ten wheat food allergic patients was studied in non-denaturing RAST-based binding assays. Alpha-purothionin was expressed in the prokaryotic (EcTri a 37) and in the eukaryotic system (BvTri a 37) as a soluble and monomeric protein. However, circular dichroism analysis revealed that EcTri a 37 was unfolded whereas BvTri a 37 was a folded protein. Both proteins showed comparable IgE-reactivity and the epitope mapping revealed the presence of sequential IgE epitopes in the N-terminal basic thionin domain (peptide1:KSCCRSTLGRNCYNLCRARGAQKLCAGVCR) and in the C-terminal acidic extension domain (peptide3:KGFPKLALESNSDEPDTIEYCNLGCRSSVC, peptide4:CNLGCRSSVCDYMV-NAAADDEEMKLYVEN). Natural Tri a 37 was digested under gastric conditions but resistant to duodenal digestion. Immunization with EcTri a 37 induced IgG antibodies which recognized similar epitopes as IgE antibodies from allergic patients and inhibited allergic patients' IgE binding. Reactivity to Tri a 37 does not require a folded protein and the presence of sequential IgE epitopes indicates that sensitization to alpha-purothionin occurs via the gut. Both allergens can be used for in-vitro diagnosis of wheat food allergy. The induction of blocking IgG antibodies suggests the usefulness for immunotherapy.
Pahr, S., Selb, R., Weber, M., Focke-Tejkl, M., Hofer, G., Dordić, A., … Valenta, R. (2014). Biochemical, biophysical and IgE-epitope characterization of the wheat food allergen, Tri a 37. PLoS ONE, 9(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111483