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Molecular and functional characterization of allergens: basic and practical aspects.

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UniversitÀt Wien, Austria.


Well-defined allergen preparations are, in the first line, a prerequisite for exact diagnosis, but will be supposedly useful tools in immunotherapy of Type I (IgE-mediated) allergic diseases. The allergens have to be available in standardized and highly purified form in sufficient quantities. By applying recombinant DNA techniques this goal can be achieved with respect to both, characterization and reproducibility of allergen preparations. As an example, purified recombinant non-fusion Betv1 revealed identical immunological properties with respect to interaction with both, anti-Betv1 antibodies and Betv1-specific T cell clones when compared with natural Betv1 purified from birch pollen. Moreover, cloning of allergens yielded a number of deduced primary structures of allergens, which allows computer-aided comparisons with already known amino acid sequences. Significant sequence similarities with well-described proteins may point at a biological and biochemical function of the cloned allergen, which might be of interest for considerations why a certain protein within an extract represents an allergen. Furthermore, the interaction of small peptides synthesized according to amino acid sequences of cloned allergens with allergen-specific T and B cells can be investigated. Respective results will yield information about the regulation of IgE synthesis and, thus, might point at new concepts of immunotherapy.

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