A monoclonal antibody specific for a carbohydrate epitope recognizes an IgE-binding determinant shared by taxonomically unrelated allergenic pollens


Gabriella Di Felice, Department of Immunology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, V.le Regina Elena, 299, I-00161 Rome, Italy. E-mail: difelice@iss.it


Carbohydrate epitopes are capable of binding human IgE from allergic subjects and these epitopes play a role in the cross-reactivity between allergens from unrelated sources. A monoclonal antibody (5E6), specific for a carbohydrate epitope detectable on components of Cupressus arizonica pollen extract, has been produced and characterized.

To study the relationship between the epitopes recognized by the monoclonal antibody and by IgE from allergic subjects. To investigate the presence of such carbohydrate IgE determinant in extracts from 21 pollen species belonging to 16 taxonomically related and unrelated families, by means of the monoclonal antibody.

IgG-depleted fraction from protein G-purified human allergic serum was obtained. The monoclonal antibody and the IgE from the purified fraction were tested on two glycoproteins, polyamine oxidase and ascorbate oxidase, adsorbed on the ELISA plates. The relationship between the monoclonal- and the IgE-recognized epitopes was investigated by ELISA-competition experiments. Analysis of the distribution of this carbohydrate epitope was performed by direct binding of the monoclonal antibody onto the various extracts.

The monoclonal antibody and the IgE were able to bind carbohydrate epitopes on the two plant glycoproteins, ascorbate oxidase and polyamine oxidase. Polyamine oxidase shows only one N-glycosilation site whose carbohydrate moiety seems to be composed of a branched chain of seven ordered sugars, i.e. two N-acetyl-d-glucosamine-, three mannose-, one fucose- and one xylose-residues. This structure bears the epitope recognized by mAb 5E6. Human IgE from the IgG-depleted fraction were found capable of inhibiting the monoclonal antibody binding. The allergenic epitope identified was shared by a large number of extracts with different levels of reactivity (OD490 ranging from 0.110 to 2.060).

Our data support the finding that a monoclonal antibody specific for a carbohydrate epitope of Cupressus arizonica pollen extract detects an epitope which is also recognized by IgE from allergic subjects. This characterized reagent could be a useful tool for studying distribution of cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants in allergenic pollen extracts and their components.