The ABA-1 allergen of the nematode Ascaris suum: epitope stability, mass spectrometry, and N-terminal sequence comparison with its homologue in Toxocara canis


Dr Malcolm Kennedy, Wellcome Laboratories for Experimental Parasitology, University of Glasgow, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK.


ABA-1 is a major allergen of nematode parasites of the genus Ascaris which includes the large roundworms of humans and pigs, A. lumbricoides and A. suum, respectively. The allergen was purified from A. suum by immunoaffinity chromatography for immunochemical examination. The IgE antibody repertoire is under MHC control in infected rodents and the IgE-binding epitopes were robust to treatment with heat or periodate, and electroblotting on nitrocellulose. This implies that the IgE epitopes comprise primary peptide sequence or an unusually stable secondary or tertiary structure. The molecular mass of ABA-1 is controversial, but mass spectrometry analysis indicated that there were five components of similar size, with the major species being 14 643.2 ± 1.4D. Finally, N-terminal sequence analysis of ABA-1 and TBA-1 (the homologue in the canine nematode infective to humans, Toxocara canis) revealed a high degree of similarity, and we have previous evidence that ABA-1 homologues are widespread amongst ascaridid parasites of humans. ABA-1 and its homologues might, therefore, be important to the immunopathology of many infections with nematode parasites, upon which the genetic constitution of the hosts will also have a bearing.