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Birch pollen-related food allergy to legumes: identification and characterization of the Bet v 1 homologue in mungbean (Vigna radiata), Vig r 1


B. K. Ballmer-Weber, Allergy Unit, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zurich, Gloriastr. 31, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland.


Background Recently allergic reactions to legumes mediated by Bet v 1-homologous food allergens were described for soy and peanut. In this study we assessed allergic reactions to another legume, to mungbean seedlings, and identified its Bet v 1-homologous allergen Vig r 1.

Methods Ten patients were selected who had a history of allergic reactions to mungbean seedlings and a respiratory allergy to birch pollen. The Bet v 1 homologue in mungbean seedlings, Vig r 1, was cloned by a PCR strategy, expressed in Escherichia coli, and purified by preparative SDS-PAGE. In all sera, specific IgE against birch pollen, Bet v 1, Bet v 2, Vig r 1, and the Bet v 1 homologues in soy (Gly m 4) and cherry (Pru av 1) was determined by CAP-FEIA. Cross-reactivity of specific IgE with Vig r 1, Bet v 1, Gly m 4, and Pru av 1 was assessed by immunoblot inhibition. Expression of Vig r 1 during development of mungbean seedlings and under wounding stress was analysed by immunoblotting. The Vig r 1 double band was analysed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).

Results All patients were sensitized to birch pollen and Bet v 1, 20% to Bet v 2, and 90% to Gly m 4. Seventy percent of the patients showed IgE binding to a double band at 15 kDa in mungbean extract that was inhibited after pre-incubation of sera with rBet v 1. PCR cloning revealed that the mungbean homologue of Bet v 1 had a molecular weight of 16.2 kDa, a calculated pI of 4.6% and 42.8% amino acid sequence identity with Bet v 1. MS analysis confirmed similarity of the double band with the deduced Vig r 1 sequence, but also indicated the existence of other Vig r 1 isoforms. ImmunoCAP analysis detected IgE against Vig r 1 in 80% of the sera. IgE binding to Vig r 1 was inhibited with Gly m 4 in six of six and with rPru av 1 in four of six patients. Vig r 1 expression occurred during development of seedlings and was increased by wounding stress.

Conclusions Food allergy to mungbean seedlings can be caused by primary sensitization to birch pollen and is mediated by Vig r 1 in the majority of the patients with birch pollen-related allergy to mungbean seedlings.