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Biosci Rep. 2009 Jun;29(3):183-92. doi: 10.1042/BSR20080117.

Cross-reactivity of pollen and food allergens: soybean Gly m 4 is a member of the Bet v 1 superfamily and closely resembles yellow lupine proteins.

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Department of Biopolymers and Research Center for Bio-Macromolecules, Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany.


In many cases, patients allergic to birch pollen also show allergic reactions after ingestion of certain fruits or vegetables. This observation is explained at the molecular level by cross-reactivity of IgE antibodies induced by sensitization to the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 with homologous food allergens. As IgE antibodies recognize conformational epitopes, a precise structural characterization of the allergens involved is necessary to understand cross-reactivity and thus to develop new methods of allergen-specific immunotherapy for allergic patients. Here, we report the three-dimensional solution structure of the soybean allergen Gly m 4, a member of the superfamily of Bet v 1 homologous proteins and a cross-reactant with IgE antibodies originally raised against Bet v 1 as shown by immunoblot inhibition and histamine release assays. Although the overall fold of Gly m 4 is very similar to that of Bet v 1, the three-dimensional structures of these proteins differ in detail. The Gly m 4 local structures that display those differences are also found in proteins from yellow lupine with known physiological function. The three-dimensional structure of Gly m 4 may thus shed some light on the physiological function of this subgroup of PR10 proteins (class 10 of pathogenesis-related proteins) and, in combination with immunological data, allow us to propose surface patches that might represent cross-reactive epitopes.

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