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J Biol Chem. 1995 Aug 18;270(33):19563-8.

Molecular cloning of a major cockroach (Blattella germanica) allergen, Bla g 2. Sequence homology to the aspartic proteases.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


Inhalation of allergens produced by the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) elicits IgE antibody formation and the development of asthma in genetically predisposed individuals. We compared the allergenic importance of two cockroach (CR) allergens, Bla g 1 and Bla g 2, and determined the complete amino acid sequence of the major 36-kDa allergen, Bla g2. A survey of 106 sera from CR allergic patients showed the prevalence of IgE antibodies to Bla g 1 and Bla g 2 to be 30.2% and 57.6%, respectively. Immediate skin tests on 7 selected patients gave positive reactions using 10(-3) micrograms/ml either allergen, whereas controls showed no response to 10 micrograms/ml. Natural Bla g 2 was purified and the sequence of the NH2 terminus and tryptic peptides, comprising 36% of the molecule, was determined. The cDNA for Bla g 2 was cloned from a B. germanica expression library and encoded a 24-amino acid signal peptide and a 328-amino acid mature protein, which showed the highest degree of identity to mosquito (Aedes aegypti) lysosomal aspartic protease (30.8%), with similar identity to pepsin, cathepsins D and E, renin, and chymosin. Bla g 2 mRNA and protein were detected in B. germanica, but not in Periplaneta americana, the other principal domiciliary CR species in the U.S. High concentrations of Bla g 2 were found in CR digestive organs (esophagus, gut, and proventriculus). The results show that Bla g 2 is a major species-specific allergen of B. germanica and suggest that the allergen functions as a digestive enzyme in the cockroach.

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