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Biophys J. Sep 2000; 79(3): 1601–1609.
PMCID: PMC1301052

Homology modeling and characterization of IgE binding epitopes of mountain cedar allergen Jun a 3.


The Jun a 3 protein from mountain cedar (Juniperus ashei) pollen, a member of group 5 of the family of plant pathogenesis-related proteins (PR-proteins), reacts with serum IgE from patients with cedar hypersensitivity. We used the crystal structures of two other proteins of this group, thaumatin and an antifungal protein from tobacco, both approximately 50% identical in sequence to Jun a 3, as templates to build homology models for the allergen. The in-house programs EXDIS and FANTOM were used to extract distance and dihedral angle constraints from the Protein Data Bank files and determine energy-minimized structures. The mean backbone deviations for the energy-refined model structures from either of the templates is <1 A, their conformational energies are low, and their stereochemical properties (determined with PROCHECK) are acceptable. The circular dichroism spectrum of Jun a 3 is consistent with the postulated beta-sheet core. Tryptic fragments of Jun a 3 that reacted with IgE from allergic patients all mapped to one helical/loop surface of the models. The Jun a 3 models have features common to aerosol allergens from completely different protein families, suggesting that tertiary structural elements may mediate the triggering of an allergic response.

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