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Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013 Dec;31(4):261-70.

Wind-pollination and the roles of pollen allergenic proteins.

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  • 1Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama 6 Road, Phayathai, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand.


Over the past few decades, there has been an explosion of understanding of the molecular nature of major allergens contained within pollens from the most important allergenic plant species. Most major allergens belong to only a few protein families. Protein characteristics, cross-reactivity, structures, and IgE binding epitopes have been determined for several allergens. These efforts have led to significant improvements in specific immunotherapy, yet there has been little discussion about the physiological functions of these proteins. Even with large amounts of available information about allergenic proteins from pollens, the incidence of pollen allergy continuously increases worldwide. The reason for this increase is unclear and is most likely due to a combination of factors. One important culprit might be a change in the pollen itself. Knowledge about pollen biology and how pollen is changing as a result of more extreme environmental conditions might improve our understanding of the disease. This review focuses on the characteristics of plants producing allergenic pollens that are relevant to pollen allergy, including the phylogenetic relationships, pollen dispersal distances, amounts of pollen produced, amounts of protein in each type of pollen, and how allergenic proteins are released from pollens. In addition, the physiological roles of major allergenic protein families will be discussed to help us understand why some of these proteins become allergens and why GMO plants with hypoallergenic pollens may not be successful.

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