Background Alternaria alternata is one of the most important allergenic fungi worldwide. Mannitol dehydrogenase (MtDH) has previously been shown to be a major allergen of Cladosporium herbarum and cross-reactivity has been demonstrated for several fungal allergens.
Objective The present study's objective was to clone the MtDH from an A. alternata cDNA library, express and purify the recombinant non-fusion protein and test its IgE-binding properties.
Methods A cDNA library prepared from A. alternata hyphae and spores was screened for mannitol dehydrogenase by DNA hybridization with the radioactively labelled C. herbarum homologue as a probe. The resulting clone was sequenced and heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli as a recombinant non-fusion protein, which was purified to homogeneity and analysed for its IgE-binding capacity.
Results The coding sequence of the full-length cDNA clone comprises 798 bp encoding a protein with a molecular mass of 28.6 kDa and a predicted pI of 5.88. Protein sequence analysis revealed an identity of 75% and a homology of 86% between the MtDHs of A. alternata and C. herbarum. The functional mannitol dehydrogenase was expressed in the E. coli strain BL21(DE3) transformed with the vector pMW172 and purified to homogeneity. The enzyme catalyses the NADPH-dependent conversion of d-fructose to d-mannitol. In IgE-ELISA and immunoblots, MtDH is recognized by 41% of A. alternata-allergic patients. In vivo immunoreactivity of the recombinant MtDH was verified by skin prick testing. Finally, inhibition-ELISA experiments confirmed cross-reactivity between the MtDHs of A. alternata and C. herbarum.
Conclusion Mannitol dehydrogenase (Alt a 8) represents an important new allergen of the ascomycete A. alternata that might be suitable for improving diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.