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Bet v 1-like pollen allergens of multiple Fagales species can sensitize atopic individuals



Dr Michael Wallner, Christian Doppler Laboratory for Allergy Diagnosis and Therapy, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria.




In the temperate climate zone of the Northern hemisphere, Fagales pollen allergy represents the main cause of winter/spring pollinosis. Among Fagales trees, pollen allergies are strongly associated within the Betulaceae and the Fagaceae families. It is widely accepted that Fagales pollen allergies are initiated by sensitization against Bet v 1, the birch pollen major allergen, although evidence is accumulating that the allergenic activity of some Bet v 1-like molecules has been underestimated.


To investigate the allergenic potential of the clinically most important Fagales pollen allergens from birch, alder, hazel, hornbeam, hop-hornbeam, oak, beech and chestnut.


To obtain the full spectrum of allergens, the three previously unavailable members of the Bet v 1-family, hop-hornbeam Ost c 1, chestnut Cas s 1 and beech Fag s 1, were identified in the respective pollen extracts, cloned and produced as recombinant proteins in E. coli. Together with recombinant Bet v 1, Aln g 1, Car b 1, Cor a 1 and Que a 1, the molecules were characterized physicochemically, mediator release assays were performed and IgE cross-reactivity was evaluated by ELISA and Immuno Solid-phase Allergen Chip (ISAC) IgE inhibition assays.


All allergens showed the typical Bet v 1-like secondary structure elements, and they were all able to bind serum IgE from Fagales allergic donors. Strong IgE binding was observed for Betuloideae and Coryloideae allergens, however, cross-reactivity between the two subfamilies was limited as explored by inhibition experiments. In contrast, IgE binding to members of the Fagaceae could be strongly inhibited by serum pre-incubation with allergens of the Betuloideae subfamily.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

The data suggest that Bet v 1-like allergens of the Betuloideae and Coryloideae subfamily might have the potential to induce IgE antibodies with different specificities, while allergic reactions towards Fagaceae allergens are the result of IgE cross-reactivity.