The major Platanus acerifolia pollen allergen Pla a 1 has sequence homology to invertase inhibitors


Dr Juan A. Asturias, Bial-Arístegui, R&D Department, Alameda Urquijo, 27, 48008 Bilbao, Spain. E-mail:


Background Sycamores or plane trees are an important source of airborne allergens in many cities of the United States and Western Europe. Pla a 1 has been described as a major allergen from Platanus acerifolia (London plane tree).

Objective To clone and characterize the cDNA for Pla a 1 and to express the recombinant protein.

Methods Pla a 1 was isolated by cationic exchange, gel filtration, and reverse-phase chromato-graphies. Pla a 1 cDNA was cloned by reverse transcription followed by polymerase chain reaction, using amino acid sequences from tryptic peptides of the allergen. The Pla a 1 encoding sequence has been subcloned into the pKN172 expression vector and expressed in Escherichia coli as a non-fusion protein. Purified recombinant protein has been tested for its IgE-binding capacity in immunoblot, immunoblot inhibition, and ELISA.

Results Pla a 1 reacted with serum IgE from 35 of the 42 (83.3%) Platanus-allergic patients studied and represented 60% of the total IgE-binding capacity of the P. acerifolia pollen extract. The allergen displayed 43% sequence identity to a grape invertase inhibitor and showed a predicted secondary structure characteristic of all-alpha proteins. Serological analysis revealed that both natural and recombinant forms of Pla a 1 displayed similar IgE-binding capacity.

Conclusions Pla a 1 belongs to a new class of allergens related to proteinaceous invertase inhibitors. Recombinant Pla a 1 binds IgE in vitro like its natural counterpart and, therefore, it can be useful for specific diagnosis and structural studies.