Rice seed-based edible vaccines expressing T-cell epitope peptides derived from Japanese cedar major pollen allergens have been used to successfully suppress allergen-specific Th2-mediated immunoglobulin E (IgE) responses in mouse experiments. In order to further expand the application of seed-based allergen-specific immunotherapy for controlling Japanese cedar pollinosis, we generated transgenic rice plants that specifically express recombinant Cry j 1 allergens in seeds. Cry j 1 allergens give low specific IgE-binding activity but contain all of the T-cell epitopes. The allergens were expressed directly or as a protein fusion with the major rice storage protein glutelin. Fusion proteins expressed under the control of the strong rice endosperm-specific GluB-1 promoter accumulated in rice endosperm tissue up to 15% of total seed protein. The fusion proteins aggregated with cysteine-rich prolamin and were deposited in endoplasmic reticulum-derived protein body I. The production of transgenic rice expressing structurally disrupted Cry j 1 peptides with low IgE binding activity but spanning the entire Cry j1 region can be used as a universal, safe and effective tolerogen for rice seed-based oral immunotherapy for cedar pollen allergy in humans and other mammals.
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