Background Allergic reactions to pea (Pisum sativum) ingestion are frequently associated with lentil allergy in the Spanish population. Vicilin have been described as a major lentil allergen.
Objective To identify the main IgE binding components from pea seeds and to study their potential cross-reactivity with lentil vicilin.
Methods A serum pool or individual sera from 18 patients with pea allergy were used to detect IgE binding proteins from pea seeds by immunodetection and immunoblot inhibition assays. Protein preparations enriched in pea vicilin were obtained by gel filtration chromatography followed by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). IgE binding components were identified by means of N-terminal amino acid sequencing. Complete cDNAs encoding pea vicilin were isolated by PCR, using primers based on the amino acid sequence of the reactive proteins.
Results IgE immunodetection of crude pea extracts revealed that convicilin (63 kDa), as well as vicilin (44 kDa) and one of its proteolytic fragments (32 kDa), reacted with more than 50% of the individual sera tested. Additional proteolytic subunits of vicilin (36, 16 and 13 kDa) bound IgE from approximately 20% of the sera. The lentil vicilin allergen Len c 1 strongly inhibited the IgE binding to all components mentioned above. The characterization of cDNA clones encoding pea vicilin has allowed the deduction of its complete amino acid sequence (90% of sequence identity to Len c 1), as well as those of its reactive proteolytic processed subunits.
Conclusions Vicilin and convicilin are potential major allergens from pea seeds. Furthermore, proteolytic fragments from vicilin are also relevant IgE binding pea components. All these proteins cross-react with the major lentil allergen Len c 1.