Background The house dust mite has been shown to be an important source of domestic allergens associated with immediate hypersensitivities. The Group I mite allergens Der p I from Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Der f I from D. farinae display extensive amino acid sequence homology and have similarities with cysteine protease enzymes.
Objective The availability of the complete amino acid sequences for these allergens allowed us to search for the allergic detertninants within these molecules. The aim of the present investigation was to identify any continuous IgE-binding epitopes within these amino acid sequences. We also sought to test the validity of previously reported Der p I peptide epitope sequences.
Methods In order to identity any continuous IgE epitopes, the amino acid sequences of Der p I and Der f I were synthesized as decapeptides overlapping in sequence and coupled to plastic pins. The specific IgE-binding capacity of these peptides was assayed using an enzyme-linked biotin-streptavidin procedure and sera from patients known to be sensitive to these allergens. Previously reported Der p I peptide epitopes were synthesized as free peptides and tested for their ability to inhibit specific IgE binding to allergen extract discs.
Results None of the pin-coupled Der p I or Der f I peptides was found by the continuous epitope mapping procedure to bind significantly to specific IgE in the sera of hypersensitive patients. The previously reported Der p I peptide epitopes did not inhibit specific IgE binding to mite extract discs.
Conclusion The specific IgE binding epitopes of the house dust mite allergens Der p I and Der f I are discontinuous in nature.