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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Oct;88(4):588-94.

Common epitopes of birch pollen and apples--studies by western and northern blot.

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Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, University of Vienna, Austria.


Eighty-three sera from patients with birch-pollen allergy were investigated for IgE antibodies against apple allergens by means of immunoblotting. In immunoblots, 81 patients (97.6%) exhibited IgE directed against the major allergen of birch, Bet v I (17 kd), and these patients also demonstrated IgE binding to apple allergens in the molecular weight range 17 to 18 kd. Inhibition studies by preincubation of sera with birch-pollen extract led to complete blocking of IgE binding to this 17 to 18 kd protein, whereas preincubation with apple extract could not diminish IgE binding to Bet V I. Furthermore, a 17 kd protein in apple extract could be detected by immunoblotting with a Bet v I-specific monoclonal antibody. Northern blotting with a Bet v I cDNA clone as a probe revealed cross-hybridization of birch and apple allergen coding nucleic acids under conditions of high stringency, suggesting significant homology of the nucleic acid level. Our results support the concept that antigens in birch pollen and apples share allergenic epitopes leading to IgE cross-reactivities that may cause clinical manifestations when a special threshold level of specific IgE antibodies is reached.

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