Background Hev b 4 is an allergenic natural rubber latex (NRL) protein complex that is reactive in skin prick tests and in vitro immunoassays. On SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), Hev b 4 is discerned predominantly at 53–55 kDa together with a 57 kDa minor component previously identified as a cyanogenic glucosidase. Of the 13 NRL allergens recognized by the International Union of Immunological Societies, the 53–55 kDa Hev b 4 major protein is the only candidate that lacks complete cDNA and protein sequence information.
Objective We sought to clone the transcript encoding the Hev b 4 major protein, and characterize the native protein and its recombinant form in relation to IgE binding.
Methods The 5′/3′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends method was employed to obtain the complete cDNA of the Hev b 4 major protein. A recombinant form of the protein was over-expressed in Escherichia coli. The native Hev b 4 major protein was deglycosylated by trifluoromethane sulphonic acid. Western immunoblots of the native, deglycosylated and recombinant proteins were performed using both polyclonal antibodies and sera from latex-allergic patients.
Results The cDNA encoding the Hev b 4 major protein was cloned. Its open reading frame matched lecithinases in the conserved domain database and contained 10 predicted glycosylation sites. Detection of glycans on the Hev b 4 lecithinase homologue confirmed it to be a glycoprotein. The deglycosylated lecithinase homologue was discerned at 40 kDa on SDS-PAGE, this being comparable to the 38.53 kDa mass predicted by its cDNA. Deglycosylation of the lecithinase homologue resulted in the loss of IgE recognition, although reactivity to polyclonal rabbit anti-Hev b 4 was retained. IgE from latex-allergic patients also failed to recognize the non-glycosylated E. coli recombinant lecithinase homologue.
Conclusion The IgE epitopes of the Hev b 4 lecithinase homologue reside mainly in its carbohydrate moiety, which also account for the discrepancy between the observed molecular weight of the protein and the value calculated from its cDNA.