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J Biol Chem. 2007 Dec 21;282(51):36808-19. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

Major house dust mite allergens Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus 1 and Dermatophagoides farinae 1 degrade and inactivate lung surfactant proteins A and D.

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  • 1MRC Immunochemistry Unit, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU, United Kingdom.


Lung surfactant proteins (SP) A and D are calcium-dependent carbohydrate-binding proteins. In addition to playing multiple roles in innate immune defense such as bacterial aggregation and modulation of leukocyte function, SP-A and SP-D have also been implicated in the allergic response. They interact with a wide range of inhaled allergens, competing with their binding to cell-sequestered IgE resulting in inhibition of mast cell degranulation, and exogenous administration of SP-A and SP-D diminishes allergic hypersensitivity in vivo. House dust mite allergens are a major cause of allergic asthma in the western world, and here we confirm the interaction of SP-A and SP-D with two major mite allergens, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus 1 and Dermatophagoides farinae 1, and show that the cysteine protease activity of these allergens results in the degradation of SP-A and SP-D under physiological conditions, with multiple sites of cleavage. A recombinant fragment of SP-D that is effective in diminishing allergic hypersensitivity in mouse models of dust mite allergy was more susceptible to degradation than the native full-length protein. Degradation was enhanced in the absence of calcium, with different sites of cleavage, indicating that the calcium associated with SP-A and SP-D influences accessibility to the allergens. Degradation of SP-A and SP-D was associated with diminished binding to carbohydrates and to D. pteronyssinus 1 itself and diminished capacity to agglutinate bacteria. Thus, the degradation and consequent inactivation of SP-A and SP-D may be a novel mechanism to account for the potent allergenicity of these common dust mite allergens.

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