Background The ant species Pachycondyla chinensis, which has spread from Far Eastern Asia to New Zealand and North America, induces anaphylactic reactions in human with its sting. However, the major allergens of P. chinensis have not yet been characterized.
Methods We selected seven patients with histories of anaphylaxis induced by P. chinensis. Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) was used to identify the major allergens. We subsequently performed Western blots for P. chinensis-specific IgEs, N-terminal amino acid sequencing, ESI-MS/MS, and RT-PCR using primers based on the N-terminal sequence.
Results Six of the anaphylactic subjects had an IgE specific to a 23 kDa allergen of P. chinensis. Two candidates for major allergens, 23 kDa (pI 8.7) and 25 kDa (pI 6.2), were revealed by 2-DE using P. chinensis-specific IgE immunoblotting. In N-terminal sequencing and ESI-MS/MS analysis, 23 kDa (pI 8.7) and 25 kDa (pI 6.2) allergens, belonging to the protein families of antigen 5, were identified and share marked amino acid sequence similarity. The 23 kDa allergen is 206 amino acids in length and homology searches showed 54.0% and 50.0% homology with Sol i 3 and Ves v 5, respectively.
Conclusion The major allergens of P. chinensis are 23 kDa (pI 8.7) and 25 kDa (pI 6.2) proteins that belong to the antigen 5 family of proteins.