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Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2006;139(1):53-62. Epub 2005 Nov 15.

Mutational analysis of amino acid positions crucial for IgE-binding epitopes of the major apple (Malus domestica) allergen, Mal d 1.

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Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Individual amino acid residues of the major birch pollen allergen, Bet v 1, have been identified to be crucial for IgE recognition. The objective of the present study was to evaluate whether this concept was applicable for the Bet v 1-homologous apple allergen, Mal d 1.


A Mal d 1 five-point mutant was produced by PCR techniques, cloned into pMW 172 and expressed in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) cells. To evaluate the allergenic properties of the engineered protein compared to Mal d 1 wild-type IgE immunoblotting, ELISA, peripheral blood monocytes proliferation assays, and skin prick tests were performed.


The Mal d 1 mutant showed reduced capacity to bind specific IgE as compared to wild-ype Mal d 1 in in vitro assays in the majority of the sera tested. In ELISA, 10 out of 14 serum samples displayed an 88-30% decrease in IgE binding to Mal d 1 mutant compared to wild-type Mal d 1. Skin prick tests in apple-allergic patients (n = 2) confirmed the markedly decreased ability of the Mal d 1 mutant to induce allergic reactions in vivo. However, the relevant T cell epitopes were present in the mutated molecule according to peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation assays.


Our findings suggest that it is possible to modulate the IgE-binding properties of allergens by single amino acid substitutions at crucial positions which might be useful for future immunotherapy of birch-pollen-associated food allergies which are not ameliorated by birch pollen immunotherapy.

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