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J Immunol. 1999 Nov 15;163(10):5489-96.

Molecular, immunological, and structural characterization of Phl p 6, a major allergen and P-particle-associated protein from Timothy grass (Phleum pratense) pollen.

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  • 1Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, Vienna General Hospital, University of Vienna, Austria.


Due to the wide distribution and heavy pollen production of grasses, approximately 50% of allergic patients are sensitized against grass pollen allergens. cDNAs coding for two isoforms and four fragments of a major timothy grass (Phleum pratense) pollen allergen, Phl p 6, were isolated by IgE immunoscreening from a pollen expression cDNA library. Recombinant Phl p 6 (rPhl p 6), an acidic protein of 11.8 kDa, was purified to homogeneity as assessed by mass spectrometry and exhibited almost exclusive alpha-helical secondary structure as determined by circular dichroism spectroscopy. Phl p 6 reacted with serum IgE from 75% of grass pollen-allergic patients (n = 171). IgE binding experiments with rPhl p 6 fragments indicated that the N terminus of the allergen is required for IgE recognition. Purified rPhl p 6 elicited dose-dependent basophil histamine release and immediate type skin reactions in patients allergic to grass pollen. A rabbit antiserum raised against purified rPhl p 6 identified it as a pollen-specific protein that, by immunogold electron microscopy, was localized on the polysaccharide-containing wall-precursor bodies (P-particles). The association of Phl p 6 with P-particles may facilitate its intrusion into the deeper airways and thus be responsible for the high prevalence of IgE recognition of Phl p 6. Recombinant native-like Phl p 6 can be used for in vitro as well as in vivo diagnoses of grass pollen allergy, whereas N-terminal deletion mutants with reduced IgE binding capacity may represent candidates for immunotherapy of grass pollen allergy with a low risk of anaphylactic side effects.

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