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J Exp Med. 1999 Dec 20;190(12):1897-902.

The cysteine protease activity of the major dust mite allergen Der p 1 selectively enhances the immunoglobulin E antibody response.

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Division of Molecular and Clinical Immunology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, United Kingdom.


The house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus allergen Der p 1 is the most immunodominant allergen involved in the expression of dust mite-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E-mediated hypersensitivity. The reason for this potent IgE-eliciting property of Der p 1 remains unknown, but there is mounting in vitro evidence linking the allergenicity of Der p 1 to its cysteine protease activity. Here we demonstrate for the first time that immunization of mice with proteolytically active Der p 1 results in a significant enhancement in total IgE and Der p 1-specific IgE synthesis compared with animals immunized with Der p 1 that was irreversibly blocked with the cysteine protease inhibitor E-64. We conclude that the proteolytic activity of Der p 1 is a major contributor to its allergenicity.

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