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Keywords:

  • Act d 2;
  • allergen sensitization;
  • carbohydrate complex determinant;
  • N-glycosylation;
  • plant food allergy;
  • thaumatin-like protein

Abstract

The physical, biochemical, and immunological characteristics of plant allergens have been widely studied, but no definite conclusion has been reached about what actually makes a protein an allergen. In this sense, N-glycosylation is an exclusive characteristic of plant allergens not present in mammals and it could be implied in allergenic sensitization. With this aim, we evaluated and compared the allergenic activity of the protein fraction and the N-glycan fraction of the thaumatin-like protein and the main kiwi allergen, Act d 2. The natural allergen, Act d 2, was deglycosylated by trifluoromethanesulfonic acid treatment; the N-glycan fraction was obtained by extended treatment with proteinase K. N-glycan- and protein- fractions were recognized by specific IgE of kiwi-allergic patients. By contrast, the sugar moiety showed a reduced capacity to activate basophils and T cells, but not dendritic cells derived from patients' monocytes. Related to this, the production of cytokines such as IL6 and IL10 was increased by the incubation of dendritic cells with sugar moiety. Thus, the sugar moiety plays a significant role in sensitization, inducing the activation of antigen-presenting cells, but it is the protein fraction that is responsible for the allergic reactions.