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Allergy. 1988 Nov;43(8):603-13.

Immuno-electronmicroscopic identification and localization of the antigenic proteins of tree pollen grains.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Physics, M√ľnster University, FRG.


The localization of antigenic proteins on ultrathin sections of pollen grains represents an interesting approach to understanding the release mechanisms of these antigens when the pollen grains come in contact with various physiological fluids. Using different rabbit antibodies we have demonstrated the locations of these antigens in the various structures of pollen grains. We further demonstrated the cross-reactivities between alder (Alnus incana), birch (Betula verrucosa) and hazel (Corylus avellana) pollen allergens. Ultrathin sections of the pollen grains were prepared and allowed to react with two individually raised rabbit antibodies, (Ab-BV and Ab-ALK), against birch pollen. The sites of the Ag/Ab complex on the sections were labelled by protein A/gold, and identified in a transmission electron microscope. The two birch antibodies showed either quantitative or qualitative differences regarding their binding to various structures on the pollen sections. Using Ab-BV, the antigen-binding sites were located in the apertural region of the pollen grain and in the cytoplasm, while almost no gold labelling could be seen on the pollen surface. With the other antibodies (Ab-ALK), we could visualize the antigen-binding locations on the surface material of the pollen grains, particularly in the exine part of the wall and in the cytoplasm. A few gold particles could also be seen in the apertural region of the pollen. In hazel and alder pollen the exine part of the wall was the most densely labelled, whereas the cytoplasm and the aperture bound smaller numbers of gold particles. Cross-incubations: birch pollen incubated with antibodies against hazel (Ab-CA), or alder (Ab-AI), showed various intensities of gold labelling for each of the three species. Statistically, the differences in the number of gold particles bound per micron 2 grain section between birch, hazel and alder, were highly significant. The cross-reactivities between these antigens from the three pollen species were further tested using house-produced rabbit antisera against antigens of the three species by means of electrophoretic and autoradiographic techniques (CIE and CRIE). The three antibodies could precipitate the major IgE-binding antigen from all three pollen species.

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