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Allergenicity assessment of transgenic mustard (Brassica juncea) expressing bacterial codA gene


Dr Naveen Arora
Room 509, Allergy and Immunology Section
Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology
Delhi University Campus
Mall Road


Background:  Assessing the allergenicity and toxicity of genetically modified (GM) crops is essential before they become a regular part of our food supply. The present study aimed to assess the allergenicity of Brassica juncea (mustard) expressing choline oxidase (codA) gene from Arthrobacter globiformis that provides resistance against abiotic stresses.

Methods:  SDAP, Farrp, and Swiss-Prot databases were used to study allergenicity of choline oxidase. Digestibility of choline oxidase was assessed in simulated gastric fluid (SGF). Specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) reactivity of native and GM mustard was compared by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and skin tests in respiratory-allergic patients. Allergenicity of GM and native mustard proteins was compared in Balb/c mice.

Results:  Choline oxidase showed no significant homology with allergenic proteins in SDAP and Farrp databases. Cross-reactive epitope search showed a stretch similar to Hev b 6 having some antigenic properties. Purified choline oxidase showed complete degradation with SGF. Skin prick test of native and GM mustard extract on respiratory allergic patients showed significant correlation (P < 0.05). ELISA with 96 patients’ sera showed comparable IgE reactivity. Balb/c mice immunized with native and GM mustard proteins showed low IgE response. Presensitized mice on intravenous challenge with Brassica extract showed no anaphylactic symptoms unlike ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization that showed anaphylactic reaction in mice. Lung histology of OVA-sensitized mice showed narrowing of airway and large eosinophilic infiltration, whereas native and GM Brassica extract showed normal airway.

Conclusion:  Genetically modified mustard with the codA gene possessed allergenicity similar to that of native mustard and no enhancement of IgE binding was observed due to genetic manipulation.